Street Smart campaign encourages road safety during darker evenings

Typical scene during rush hour. A traffic jam with rows of cars. Shallow depth of field.(Getty Images/iStockphoto/Rafal Olkis)

WASHINGTON — With the end of daylight saving time this weekend, transportation officials in the D.C. area are warning drivers, cyclists and pedestrians to be more alert.

Safety officials say shorter daylight hours in the fall and winter typically lead to a spike in crashes involving pedestrians.

In the last 30 days, crashes in the region have resulted in four pedestrian deaths. So officials are asking commuters to exercise caution, watch out for each other and obey traffic laws.

The Street Smart safety awareness campaign in D.C., Maryland and Virginia asks drivers, cyclists and pedestrians to be extra careful, with standard time brings darker evening commuting hours.

To support the effort, now through Dec. 3, police departments in the region will be stepping up their efforts to enforce the laws protecting pedestrians and bicyclists.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2015, 74 percent of pedestrian fatalities nationwide occurred during the dark, dusk-till-dawn hours, with one in four happening between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.

The Street Smart campaign offers these common sense safety tips for all travelers:

If you’re driving …

  • Slow down and obey the speed limit.
  • Stop for pedestrians at crosswalks.
  • Be careful when passing buses or stopped vehicles.
  • When turning, yield to people walking and biking.
  • Look for bicyclists before opening your door.
  • Allow at least three feet when passing bikes.
  • Avoid using your cellphone and never text while driving.

If you’re walking …

  • Cross the street at the corner and use marked crosswalks when they’re available.
  • Use the push-buttons.
  • Wait for the walk signal to cross the street.
  • Watch for turning vehicles.
  • Before crossing, look left, right and left again.
  • Be visible. Wear something light or reflective after dark.
  • Watch out for blind spots around trucks and buses.
  • Avoid using your cellphone while you’re crossing the street.
  • On an off-street trail, obey all posted signs and approach intersections with caution.

If you’re biking …

  • Obey signs and signals.
  • Never ride against traffic.
  • Ride in a straight line at least three feet from parked cars.
  • Use hand signals to tell drivers what you intend to do.
  • Wear a helmet.
  • Use lights at night and when visibility is poor.
  • On an off-street trail, obey all posted signs and approach intersections with caution.

Learn more about Street Smart. 

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