NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – As we get set to roll clocks back this weekend, bringing darkness on earlier, authorities are taking additional steps to remind drivers to be extra careful.
Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan announced Thursday the third annual “Dusk and Darkness” Vision Zero campaign, reminding drivers that after clocks roll back, crashes involving pedestrians increase dramatically.
“We see with the end of Daylight Saving a real spike in crashes and fatalities. It gets darker earlier where people are still out on the streets. You can see you get low visibility,” Trottenberg said. “If you’re walking or cycling or driving around at dusk you have really low visibility. It’s hard to see vehicles, it’s hard to see pedestrians, it’s hard to see cyclists. So we want to make sure we’re getting that word out: This is the time of year you really need to be safe behind the wheel.”
The period between Nov. 1-March 15 is the deadliest time of year for pedestrians in New York City, especially in the evening, Trottenberg said.
Take a drive across almost any street that runs east and west, and when the light is just right, you’re faced with blinding bright light, sun right in your face.
“It is dangerous. Sometimes you don’t see pedestrians crossing the street,” said Astoria resident Giovanni Nulio.
Scary if you’re a driver. Even scarier if you’re a pedestrian walking across the street at that time of day.
“I don’t want to get into a car accident. I always have children in the car,” said Yonkers resident Yazmin Espinat.
Dealing with a giant, bright orange ball right in front of your eyes at dawn and dusk, tough for even the most experienced drivers. Even tougher for a young driver, Liverman reported.
“It’s horrible. I can’t see a thing in front of me,” a man named Nick told Liverman.
“Because the sun’s in your face and it blinds you,” said Yonkers resident Darton Laqui.
As part of the initiative to boost awareness and encourage safe driving, NYPD and DOT street teams will be out and about talking to drivers throughout the city, officials said. They will also be cracking down on enforcement.
“Our enforcement concentration will include some of the most hazardous violations such as speeding, failure to yield to pedestrians and failure to yield to bicyclists,” Chan said. “Motorists can expect a ‘Dusk to Darkness’ pedestrian safety enforcement initiative to occur from Nov. 5-Nov. 11 from the evening hours during those periods.”
The enforcement initiative will be citywide, Chan said.
“Speeding is probably the number one factor that we see involving in the cause of fatalities and serious injuries in New York City,” Chan said. “Failure to yield to a pedestrian… left turns commonly cause more pedestrian injuries at intersections. When people are crossing, the vehicle speed is sometimes faster when they’re making a left turn then when they’re making a right turn.”
Chan also said that the NYPD will continue to crack down on private sanitation haulers who disobey the rules of the road and fail to comply with safety regulations, adding there have been 621 summonses, 128 inspections, 134 trucks placed out of service and five vehicles towed thus far.
Officials also unveiled a new “Alive at 25” educational campaign targeting high school seniors.
Younger drivers – those under 24 – account for just 10 percent of drivers in the city, but were behind the wheel in 20 percent of fatal crashes in the last year, Trottenberg said.
“A disturbing trend where younger drivers unfortunately are responsible for a disproportionate share of crashes behind the wheel: 44 in just the last year,” Trottenberg said.
Officials urged pedestrians to use crosswalks when the light is in their favor, especially at night.
It might seem obvious, but there are things you can do as a driver to keep pedestrians safe, like slowing down.
“As night falls, visibility drops. In low light, drivers can fail to see pedestrian until they are dangerously close, so slow down. Always obey the speed limit,” Chan said. “Driving isn’t easy, but certainly saving a life is.”