When the clocks go back, pedestrian-car accidents go up

WASHINGTON — There is a lot of good that comes out of setting the clock back. We have sunnier mornings and on Sunday we were rewarded with an extra hour of sleep.

On the flip side, an earlier sunset means an increased number of accidents involving pedestrians and bicyclists.

George Branyan, pedestrian program coordinator for the District’s Department of Transportation says D.C. sees 40 to 50 such accidents in the summer months.

“It goes up to 60 to 70 October, November, December and stays a little bit high through the whole winter,” says Branyan.

The No. 1 cause of these types of accidents in the city is drivers striking people on foot while turning on a green light.

“[Drivers] need to be very careful when they’re turning to watch out for pedestrians,” he says.

The second largest number of pedestrian-car accidents are caused by jaywalking.

There is also a growing problem with walkers and smartphones. “Walking while distracted is a situation that’s growing.”

According to a D.C. area pedestrian safety campaign called Street Smart, 70 pedestrian’s were killed on D.C.-area streets in 2012.

The key is remembering that as a driver, you always need to be on the lookout, Branyan says.

“The main thing to remember is when you are driving a car, you’re gonna cause the harm,” he says.

The city has also seen an increase in the number of folks riding bikes. Brandon Ti rides from Silver Spring to the District every day and says he gets frustrated seeing other riders give cyclists a bad name.

“A lot of bicyclists, they don’t respect the traffic at all,” he says.

Branyan reminds bicyclists that traffic signals are for them, too. “Bicyclists need take responsibility for their behavior, just like motorists need to watch out for bicyclists,” Branyan says.

The bottom line when it comes to cyclists, walkers and drivers: “If you don’t have the right of way, don’t step out, don’t ride out.”

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