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It’s Dark Out There

November 6 marked the end of Daylight Saving Time.  We turned the clocks back one hour.  That means it is lighter when we wake up and head out for the morning commute, but it is dark outside when most of us head home from work in the evening.  The loss of one hour of afternoon sunlight increases the risk of traffic and pedestrian accidents in Lynnfield, Lynn, Danvers and Middleton and throughout the North Shore.

commerce-acts-books-477966-m“The time change officially [took] place at 2 a.m., but you don’t have to spring out of bed and move the big hand on your clock back an hour. The change is automatic for most smartphones, computers, tablets and other digital devices.

If you’re still using an analog alarm clock, you’ll probably want to move it back before you go to sleep on Saturday or when you wake up the next morning.

The end of [Daylight Saving Time] is also a good time to change the batteries and make sure your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.

“Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in a home fire in half,” said Neela Mukherjee Lockel, CEO of the American Red Cross on Long Island. “Turn and test is a reminder to set your clocks back and take a few minutes to push the test button to make sure all alarms are working.” the Commack Patch

Should we still move the clocks back and forth twice a year?  According to Time Magazine, more and more people advocate for Daylight Saving Time to be implemented throughout the year.  The rationalization for implementing Daylight Saving Time all year long is simple; more people are awake in the evening.  Advocates further make the justification that expecting people to abruptly adapt to time change overnight can lead to dangerous driving and accidents.  Even though it will be darker earlier, (if we have yearlong DST) people still drive aggressively, as though it is still light outside.  That means that many motor vehicle operators are driving faster; and pedestrians tend to be less alert.

Changing the clocks does present risk.

“When we lose an hour of sleep, experts say that the “fall back” period also has negative and dangerous effects, despite the extra hour gained, because the sleep cycle is still significantly altered. As long as daylight saving time remains the national standard, there’s not much that can be done about these effects. Experts suggest being proactive: go to bed a little earlier during the adjustment period, look out for signs of drowsiness while driving and pull over to rest, if necessary.” How Stuff Works

The Huffington Post reported that “more pedestrians are killed by cars during daylight saving time changes than at any other time of year, according to data from experts nationwide.”  At the end of Daylight Saving Time “one study concludes that drivers who stay out late the night before the time change ― especially those who spend it drinking ― contribute to higher pedestrian fatalities.”

With the time change it will be dark when many of us get home from work.  Our routine of dog walking, exercising with an evening run, walk, or bike ride, or picking up the kids up from daycare or after school activities will now be in the dark.  Some hints to avoid traffic accidents during Daylight Saving Time are:

  • Wear brightly colored clothing before going out to walk the dog or go for a run
  • Wear clothing with reflective material to ensure that drivers who have their headlights on can see you easily
  • Adjust kids schedules so that they get home before it’s too dark
  • During twilight hours look both ways at crosswalks
  • Use headlights when driving home from work

Daylight Saving Time is an adjustment.  Is it time to do away with it?