Caution for drivers: Time changes Nov. 6

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 28, 2011

The N.C. Department of Transportation is reminding motorists that daylight saving time ends next weekend and they need to be alert to the change. The switch back to standard time at 2 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 6, means the sun will set an hour earlier in the day and leave less light for evening commuters.
With the days already getting shorter, drivers should be extra alert for pedestrians and cyclists along the roads. That is especially true Oct. 31 as trick-or-treaters take to the streets.
“Motorists need to remember to use their headlights as dusk arrives and be on the lookout for bicyclists, pedestrians and deer,” said NCDOT Traffic Safety Specialist Cliff Braam. “Bicyclists and pedestrians also should make themselves as visible as possible by wearing bright or light colored clothing and using lights and/or reflective vests as appropriate.”
According to NCDOT statistics, 875 pedestrians and 187 bicyclists statewide were involved in vehicle crashes during dusk and nighttime hours last year. Additionally, there were about 16,488 crashes involving animals.
NCDOT recommends drivers follow these tips to make the roads safer for everyone:
• Check all vehicle lights to ensure they work properly. This includes headlights, parking lights, turn signals/emergency flashers, brake lights, tail and marker lights, interior lights and instrumentation lighting;
• Make sure your vehicle’s headlights are on and aimed properly;
• Use the night setting on your rearview mirror to avoid glare from oncoming headlights;
• Switch your headlights from high beam to low beam as oncoming vehicles approach;
• Drive cautiously. Be alert and watchful for bicyclists and pedestrians on the roadside, as well as at crosswalks. They may not see or hear you coming;
• Supervise small children as they enter and exit the vehicle, especially when parking on a street. Let them get in or out through a curbside door away from traffic;
• Remove sunglasses at dusk to increase visibility. Motorists often forget they are wearing them;
• Keep your eyes moving from side to side while driving, rather than focusing on the center line or the road ahead. This practice keeps your eyes adjusted to the dark and helps avoid “highway hypnosis,” a state which impairs reaction time; and
• Be sure you are well rested. Do not drive if you feel drowsy.
Safety tips for pedestrians and bicyclists:
• Wear brightly colored clothing or reflective gear that is easily illuminated by a vehicle’s headlights;
• Use crosswalks. Do not jaywalk;
• Look both ways before crossing the street; and
• Walk on sidewalks when possible and face oncoming traffic.
Standard time will remain in effect until March 11, 2012 at 2 a.m.
For more information on driving safely at night or in other special circumstances, consult the North Carolina Driver’s Handbook. To get a copy, call 1-877-DOT-4YOU or visit