LANSING, MI — As the clocks “fall back” to standard time on Sunday, Nov. 6, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the Michigan Fitness Foundation reminds drivers to watch out for people traveling on foot or rolling, like on a bicycle, wheelchair, skateboard, or other personal device, each evening on the drive home. Motorists also should allow a minimum 3-foot distance when passing a bicyclist, according to state law.
“We all like to take advantage of the extra hour of sleep this time of year, so let’s also take advantage of this opportunity to focus on safety as winter draws closer and we continue to lose daylight,” said State Transportation Director Paul C. Ajegba. “Road users need to be alert and eliminate distractions, slow down, and fully focus on getting to the destination safely. People traveling on foot or rolling are encouraged to wear brighter colored clothing with reflective material to enhance visibility.”
Research from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute confirms that pedestrians are more at risk of serious injury from a motor vehicle crash in the weeks following a return to standard time. The most dangerous time is the first hour of darkness.
Working with schools and communities across the state, the Michigan Fitness Foundation’s Safe Routes to School program staff provide best practices that help communities identify and overcome safety barriers that make it safe for children to walk and bike to school.
“Through our Safe Routes to School partnership with MDOT, we are pleased to help communities create safe environments for children walking and biking to school,” said Michigan Fitness Foundation President and CEO Amy Ghannam. “When we set our clocks back each fall, it is also important to remind ourselves that it will now be darker for students traveling home from school creating less visibility. We can all play a role by challenging ourselves to be more alert to keep kids safe on their school commute.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 6,236 pedestrians and 891 pedalcyclists (bicyclists and riders of two-wheel, nonmotorized vehicles, tricycles, and unicycles powered solely by pedals) died in traffic crashes in 2020. While Americans drove less in 2020 due to the pandemic, pedestrian fatalities remained flat and pedalcyclist fatalities increased 5 percent over the past year. Most pedestrian fatalities (76 percent) and pedalcyclist fatalities (50 percent) occur during dark conditions between 6 and 8:59 p.m.
MDOT continues to work with partners statewide on the Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) safety campaign based on the National Strategy on Highway Safety, which is intended to influence driver behavior and improve safety. For more information on the TZD campaign, visit www.Michigan.gov/ZeroDeaths.
About Michigan Fitness Foundation
The mission of Michigan Fitness Foundation and the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness, Health and Sports is to inspire active lifestyles and healthy food choices through education, environmental change, community events and policy leadership. For more information, visit michiganfitness.org.
About Safe Routes to School
The federal Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program was created by Congress in August 2005 as part of the federal transportation bill, SAFETEA-LU. Currently, SRTS activities are eligible for Transportation Alternatives program funding as authorized by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST ACT) in December 0f 2015. Michigan’s SRTS program is managed by the Michigan Department of Transportation with support from Michigan Fitness Foundation. SRTS grant funds can support both infrastructure and non-infrastructure projects. For more information, visit saferoutesmichigan.org.
About Michigan Department of Transportation
Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is responsible for Michigan’s nearly 10,000-mile state highway system, comprised of all M, I, and US-routes. It is the backbone of Michigan’s 120,000-mile highway, road, and street network. For more information, visit michigan.gov/mdot/travel/safety.