Fall Back Safely: Daylight Saving Time Road Safety
The end of Daylight Saving Time means a darker evening commute. Learn how you can better protect yourself on the roads this time of the year.
While you can enjoy that extra hour of sleep, the loss of one hour of light in the evenings lines up with when road collision risks are typically the highest. For all road users, the first week after DST ends can be a hard adjustment — but anticipating earlier darkness in the evening helps proactively manage the risk on your commute.
Take a look at these tips on how to stay safe through the DST transition, whether you’re a driver, cyclist, or pedestrian.
Drivers: Stay alert behind the wheel
In the Onlia Safety Index — a study hosted on the Angus Reid Forum — we found that a whopping 76% of drivers find it difficult to spot pedestrians and cyclists at night. The earlier nightfall makes it critically important to take it slow and be cautious behind the wheel; reducing your speed allows for better response time, and minimizes the risk of serious injury if there is a collision.
DST coincides with the start of Canada’s nastiest weather, so be sure to double-check that your vehicle’s fluids are topped up and all lights work. This bit of maintenance will ensure you have prime visibility in darker hours.
With the early sunset and probable bad weather, you don’t need any other distractions on the road. Stow your phone and other distractions out of sight to keep you focused on the road, and on the lookout for other road users. It also keeps you tapped into other hazards; wildlife may be on the move, or weather conditions rapidly changing.
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Cyclists: Stay visible
For cyclists, this is a prime time to check that their cycling lights work. Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act requires cyclists to equip bikes with a “white front light and a red rear light or reflector if you ride between 1/2 hour before sunset and 1/2 hour after sunrise.”
Reflective clothing helps cyclists maintain their visibility to other cyclists and drivers. Along with lights, retroreflective materials in red and yellow are some of the most visible. When reflective material is in a biomotion configuration — along the limbs of the body that move — it makes it even easier to spot cyclists.
Finally, stay predictable. This means staying in bike lanes, moving with traffic flow, and obeying traffic signals. Being predictable allows other road users to anticipate what’s about to happen and where to expect cyclists, reducing the risk of a collision.
Pedestrians: Stay safe on the streets
While larger road users like vehicles and cyclists have a responsibility to look out for pedestrians, the end of DST is a good reminder to brush up on your pedestrian routines as well.
The arrival of cooler months means bundling up in winter coats, which are typically darker colours, making you harder to see during evening commutes — especially in inclement weather. Our recommendations for cyclists on brighter colours and reflective materials works for those that commute by foot as well!
For all pedestrians, it’s key to transit in well-lit areas; using pedestrian walkways, crosswalks, sidewalks can help you stay safe when it’s darker out. Sticking to high visibility areas will help keep you protected, as it ensures that other road users can see you.
Caution, awareness, and preparedness can set up all road users for safety. Make sure to rethink your commute the clocks are turning back!