As autumn turns toward winter and days grow shorter, children are put at risk when we change our clocks from daylight-saving time back to standard time in the fall. Once the time change occurs, it will be dark even earlier — making small children difficult to see by drivers.
This means more children will be traveling to and from school in the dark, which puts them at greater risk of injuries from traffic crashes. According to the National Safety Council, chances of being struck and killed as a pedestrian increase more than 10 times after dark.
There are many things you can do to keep your children safe each morning and evening when it’s more difficult for drivers to see. Teach your children to “be seen to be safe.”
1. Children should wear bright or fluorescent clothing, especially during the day, at dawn and dusk. These colors amplify light and help your child stand out.
2. At night, children should wear white or lighter colored clothing and carry a flashlight and/or wear retro-reflective gear that reflects light back to its source so motorists can see them. A motorist will quickly detect a child walking with a lit flashlight, or riding on a bike with an attached headlight and flashing taillight. Strips of retro-reflective tape on your child’s jacket, shoes, cap, helmet, or backpack also increase the likelihood your child will be seen.
3. Teach children to “stop, look left-right-left, and listen” before stepping off the curb, even where there is a traffic signal. Accompany your children when they walk to and from school as often as possible.
4. Remind children to avoid jaywalking and crossing from between parked vehicles. Crosswalks are safer and more visible, especially after dark.
“Motorists can also help by paying special attention to safe driving rules in low-light conditions,” says Jessica Saunders, injury prevention coordinator at Dayton Children’s Hospital. “You must be alert if you are on the road after dark and at all times. Watch carefully for children who may be walking or riding their bikes. Always drive at a safe speed, especially on unlit or winding roads or when using low beams. And never text while your drive.”
Drivers are also reminded to never pass a stopped school bus with its stop arm extended and red lights flashing. Wipe off your headlights regularly, and keep your windshield clean, both inside and out for optimum viewing. Adjust the rearview mirror to the night setting to avoid headlight glare. And if you need to use your high beams on an unlit road, be sure to turn them off when another car approaches.