The days are getting noticeably shorter as we approach the end of daylight savings time and the winter solstice. This will have a significant impact on the safety of Pennsylvania's roads, as it does every year. A nighttime car accident is more likely to happen during this time of year. The National Safety Council (NSC) identified three leading reasons why. These factors are prevalent during the fall and winter months.
These factors include:
1. Dark conditions and limited visibility
With the days getting shorter, more drivers will find themselves driving in the dark. This can be especially dangerous on rural roads, which there are many miles of throughout Pennsylvania. Limited visibility is a common risk factor in crashes this time of year. According to the NSC, drivers can only see up to 250 ft. in front of them at night. With the high-beams turned on, the visibility range typically doubles to 500 ft.
In addition to limited visibility, headlight glare often causes visibility problems for drivers. This can be especially dangerous for older drivers who have declining vision or suffer from degenerative eye conditions. In fact, the NSC says that drivers age 50 and older need twice as much light as drivers age 30 and younger.
When conditions are dark, crashes can be avoided by simply slowing down, staying attentive and maintaining a safe following distance.
2. Drowsy driving caused by the time change and dark conditions
Drowsy driving can occur more often this time of year for two reasons:
- End of daylight savings time. Turning the clocks back by one hour at the end of daylight saving time may not seem like a big deal. But any change that throws off people's sleep schedules can result in increased drowsiness.
- Darkness induces sleep. When conditions are dark, the body naturally releases the sleep hormone melatonin.
According to the NHTSA, roughly 800 road deaths occur each year in the United States because of drowsy driving. Drivers who experience these signs and symptoms should get off the road as soon as possible:
- Yawning and blinking more than usual
- Memory loss
- Poor concentration
- Eyelids feeling heavy
- Irritability and restlessness
- Failure to stay within the lines in the road
3. Increase in drunk driving expected during the holidays
The end of the year brings a great deal of holiday cheer. It also brings an increase in drunk driving as more people consume alcohol while celebrating with friends and family. In general, people tend to drink alcohol more at night or in the evening after work. Alcohol impairment with limited visibility and the risk of drowsy driving can be a deadly combination. Even small amounts of alcohol can increase the risk of drowsy driving.
The NHTSA reports that around 10,000 people are killed in drunk driving car accidents each year in the U.S. Anyone who plans on drinking should avoid driving. Other alternatives include designating a sober driver or catching a cab or rideshare.
Contact a Hazleton attorney if you were hurt in a nighttime car accident
Nighttime driving conditions may not be favorable for most drivers. Drivers still have a duty to act responsibly and should be held accountable when their failure to do so causes someone's injury or death. If you or a loved one was injured in a crash because of someone else's reckless behavior, you may be entitled to compensation. Don't let the other driver's insurance company try to jerk you around or dictate the outcome of your case. Let an experienced Hazleton car accident attorney fight to maximize your compensation.
Contact the Law Offices of Edward P. McNelis today to set up your free and confidential case evaluation.