‘Witching hour’ accidents
One of the minor — or major, depending on your point of view — annoyances of daily life occurred on Nov. 3 when we switched from Daylight Saving Time to Eastern Standard Time.
There is probably nothing that makes the coming winter more assured than the relentless shrinking of daylight hours. This causes more than scheduling issues — rushing to get outdoor events completed before darkness descents — it can cause serious automobile accidents, particularly between 5 and 6 p.m.
It is such a problem — endangering drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians — that AAA Northeast is calling attention to it. Last week, Nov. 3-10, was National Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. AAA Northeast analyzed 2018 crash data from the UConn Crash Data Repository, comparing the number of motor vehicle and pedestrian-related crashes in the two weeks before and after Daylight Saving Time ended and found that statewide, the number of motor vehicle crashes between 5 and 6 p.m. increased by 159 percent in the two weeks after “falling back” compared with the two weeks before.
Car-pedestrian crashes during this time period also more than doubled in the two weeks after Daylight Saving Time ended.
Driving in the dark, especially in poor weather, poses many hazards so drivers need to be especially attentive on the way home from work. Sleep patterns can be disrupted, affecting concentration, attention and decision-making, especially late in the day. Drivers need to keep this in mind and make the appropriate lifestyle adjustments.
AAA points out the National Sleep Foundation reports drowsy driving is responsible for more than 6,400 deaths annually in the United States. UConn’s Crash Data Repository lists more than 1,500 drowsy driving-related crashes in Connecticut in 2018. However, prior research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety indicates such crashes are underreported and are much more frequent than police reports suggest.
To avoid crashes after the time change goes into effect, AAA Northeast suggests drivers:
Follow at safe driving distances to have time to react. Understand decreased visibility affects depth perception and peripheral vision.
Approach crosswalks and intersections with care. Check for cyclists and pedestrians before turning; anticipate pedestrians crossing mid-block.
Adjust speed to compensate for low-light conditions.
Maintain vehicles so headlights, tail lights and signals work properly; replace worn wiper blades, refill fluid reservoirs.
Pedestrians must also take care to see and be seen by wearing reflective clothing or accessories at night. Pedestrians should walk against traffic and cross at corners, preferably at crosswalks, not in the middle of a block.
Bicyclists should travel with traffic and ensure they are seen by wearing reflective clothing or gear.
Friday, Nov. 15, is America Recycles Day and Wilton has been participating. Those who have noticed a large bag of recyclable materials are invited to guess the weight for a contest that ends at 3 p.m. on Friday. The winner will be announced at the Nov. 18 Board of Selectmen meeting. The prize is a Wilton Chamber of Commerce gift certificate, good at participating Wilton businesses.
Anyone who is confused by what can be recycled and what cannot may visit Recycle CT’s website at recyclect.com. There you may type in the name of an item and find out if it’s recyclable or not.
Plastic bags? Yes, but they must be returned to a participating grocery store.
Pizza boxes? Yes, as long as there is no food residue and no food liner.
Shredded paper? No. Wait for a community shredding event.
Loose bottle caps? No.
Recycling is important but it can be complicated. Done right, it is less expensive than incinerating garbage or taking it to a landfill. It can also benefit the economy by creating jobs. It will also contribute to a decrease in pollution and greenhouse gases.