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Daylight Savings Time: the Silent Pedestrian Killer?

A blog published by the Toronto magazine, Spacing, has an archived entry from November 2007, Daylight savings: the silent pedestrian killer.  The blogger, Matthew Blackett, (the publisher, creative director and a founder of Spacing) begins with an apology for not resisting the “Toronto-Sun like headline.”  He blames the statistics from a 1999 to 2005 study by two Carnegie Mellon University scientists that “the likelihood of a pedestrian being struck within the first few weeks of standard time increases by a whopping 186%.”  The study concluded that the cause is everyone’s difficulty adapting to earlier darkness.

 Mr. Blackett is a graphic designer and it may be this qualification that makes his posting—despite the headline—particularly attention getting.  A photograph that, in the great tradition of one-thousand-word-equivalency, shows what we are dealing with visually at this time of year precedes the posting.  It’s an urban street scene at night with four or five blurry-silhouetted figures in the foreground. The ground consists of puddles of glowing colours, reflections of the lights from the background shops and passing vehicles.  Because there are no hard edges, speaking in terms of grounds—fore- and back—is somewhat misleading.  It’s full of light spots and spectral streams—a gorgeous image to look at secure in the fact that your reading glasses are on and the blurriness is intended—quite another thing to be contemplated from behind a steering wheel.
Attentive, focused, safe drivers are aware of the visual challenges posed by late-afternoon/night-time driving often on wet streets at this time of year.  All pedestrians need to remind themselves that they should consider themselves invisible and take precautions.
In November 2007, Road Rules offered the following tips for pedestrians:
  • Dress to be seen with at least one piece of light bright clothing, but never assume you have been.
  • Clothing with some reflective stripes or patching is a very good thing.
  • Jaywalking is foolhardy. Crossing at marked intersections or crosswalks is risky enough. Make eye contact with drivers before stepping off the curb and while crossing each lane of stopped traffic.
  • Check and double check.
…And for drivers:
  • Be alert to cars in adjacent lanes stopping to yield to crossing pedestrians.
  • Check and double check.
Another writer we like on this topic at www.docgurley.com offers the following
tips for drivers:
  • Leave yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going… If there was ever a time to drive defensively, this is it.
  • Leave plenty of space between you and the next car, stay within the speed limit and channel your inner Zen.
  • Pretend you’re watching out for large, sluggish, humped shapes in the dark that can suddenly dart in front of you. Get your best video-game reflexes tuned up to make sure you’re not caught by surprise.
  • Make sure your visibility is the best it can be. …Wash that front windshield. Put both the visors up. Made sure your headlights are clear of grime (and turned on!).


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