NYC Warns Drivers About Dusk and Nighttime Hazards

City DOT research indicates the earlier onset of darkness in the fall and winter is highly correlated to a 40 percent increase in traffic injuries and fatalities among pedestrians, and that lower visibility during the dark hours of the colder months leads to twice as many crashes involving turns.

New York officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, urged drivers to be especially alert for pedestrians and deer as they highlighted the increased dangers of driving as Daylight Saving time ended. The mayor issued the alert before most of the nation set their clocks back one hour on Nov. 5, but much of it applies the driving throughout the winter months. With earlier sunsets, drivers and pedestrians are at increased risk during dusk and evening hours; the de Blasio Administration has resumed its Vision Zero Dusk and Darkness initiative, which includes stepped-up NYPD enforcement against unsafe driving during fall and winter dusk hours -- traditionally the most dangerous time of year for pedestrians.

"While we all can be grateful for an extra hour's sleep . . . at the same time we all need to stay mindful of the driving dangers of the darker fall and winter months," de Blasio said. "As part of our Dusk and Darkness initiative, NYPD will be out during those darker afternoons and evenings, making a big difference on our streets for the safety of pedestrians. On other roads, deer pose a special danger to drivers during those same dusk hours. For everyone's protection, the best choice for drivers is to take turns slowly and obey the speed limit, on both our streets and our highways."

NYPD Commissioner James P. O'Neill agreed that the more dangerous season for pedestrians and drivers has begun. "Sunset coincides with the evening commute, and people may not be as alert or able to see as clearly. So the NYPD and its Vision Zero partners are calling on people – especially motorists – to slow down and make safe turns. Officers will be out looking for hazardous moving violations. So, please look out for one another, and if you're in an area with deer, look out for them, too."

"Deer are a relatively new traffic danger that New Yorkers should watch out for," added NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver. "Fall is mating season, which means deer will be most active – especially during dawn and dusk and especially in Staten Island and the Bronx, where deer are most prevalent."

The city's DOT has analyzed year-over-year crash trends, noting that:

  • Experts say visual acuity can decrease by as much as 90 percent during the dusk hours, making driving especially perilous.
  • The earlier onset of darkness in the fall and winter is highly correlated to a 40 percent increase in traffic injuries and fatalities among pedestrians.
  • Lower visibility during the dark hours of the colder months leads to twice as many crashes involving turns.

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