Lansing, MI - As clocks "spring forward" to daylight saving time at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 13, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Michigan Fitness Foundation (MFF) remind drivers to watch out for pedestrians, runners, and bicyclists always, but especially in low light conditions.
Sunrise will occur one hour later, meaning that it will be darker later in the morning. Drivers also should allow a minimum 3-foot distance when passing a bicyclist, according to state law.
"As the weather gets warmer, we anticipate more people getting out for some exercise and fresh air," said Acting State Transportation Director Brad Wieferich. "Pedestrians, runners, and bicyclists should wear brighter, reflective clothing in order to be seen more easily, and those behind the wheel need to pay close attention and eliminate distractions while driving."
Drivers are reminded that bicyclists are permitted to ride on most roadways in Michigan, unless otherwise posted. Bicyclists are reminded that, as legal roadway users, they are required to obey all traffic laws, signs, and signals.
Working with schools and communities across the state, MFF Safe Routes to School program staff provide best practices that help communities identify and overcome safety barriers to make it safer for children to get to and from school.
"Through our Safe Routes to School partnership with MDOT, we work with communities to create safe environments for children walking, rolling, and biking to school," said MFF President and CEO Amy Ghannam. "We can all play a role by being alert on the roadways to keep kids safe."
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 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. Preliminary data for 2021 suggest crashes involving pedestrians and pedalcyclists continues to increase and the overall crash trends should be concerning to all road users.
NHTSA's data showed that most of the pedestrian fatalities (76 percent) and bicyclist fatalities (50 percent) occurred during dark conditions between 6 p.m. and 8:59 p.m. In Michigan, there were 149 pedestrian fatalities and 21 bicyclist fatalities in traffic crashes, with 81 percent pedestrian fatalities and 48 percent bicyclist fatalities involved in traffic crashes that occurred during low light or dark conditions.
MDOT continues to work with partners statewide on the Toward Zero Deaths 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 Toward Zero Deaths campaign, visit www.Michigan.gov/ZeroDeaths.