Stay Vigilant for Pedestrians and Children

End of DST adds risk to the road

Along with fall’s changing leaves and the changing clocks come the shorter days and earlier sunsets. With dusk beginning as early as 5 p.m. in many areas of the country, drivers need to be extra vigilant for children and pedestrians. In 2016, 26 percent of pedestrian deaths occurred between 6 p.m. and 8:59 p.m., and 4 percent of those deaths were children.

Over the past week, we’ve seen too many tragedies at bus stops and along the roadside. These tragedies have left parents without their children, and have drastically changed families and communities across the country.

NHTSA is urging everyone to drive safely, and remember to stay vigilant for pedestrians and children, especially at bus stops, in school zones, and when visibility is reduced. When you’re behind the wheel, you have one job: Driving.

Tips for Motorists

  • Be alert and slow down when driving in neighborhoods with school zones, and watch for children walking, playing or assembling near bus stops.
  • Follow the school bus laws in your State, as well as the flashing light signal systems used on school buses. 
    • Flashing yellow lights indicate the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.
    • Flashing red lights and extended stop arms indicate the bus has stopped and children are getting on or off. Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop-arm is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.
  • Drive sober. In 2016 alone, there were 10,497 deaths from alcohol-related vehicle crashes.
  • Pay attention—a distracted driver is a deadly driver. Sending or receiving a text can take your eyes off the road for 5 seconds, and at 55 mph, you’ve traveled the length of a football field blind.
  • Obey speed limits. We understand the frustrations and the busy schedules of modern life, but speed limits are put in place to protect all road users.

Tips for Pedestrians

  • Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available, and cross streets and crosswalks or intersections wherever possible. Look for cars in all directions, including those turning left or right.
  • Stay alert at all times and be predictable. Don’t get distracted by electronic devices that take your eyes (and ears) off the road, and obey signs and signals. 
  • Be visible. Wear bright colors during the day, and wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night. 
  • Parents and caregivers: Have a recurrent conversation with your children about pedestrian safety so they can establish good safety habits. 

Keep yourself, your family, and your neighbors safe by following a few simple rules each and every time you get behind the wheel. Lives depend on your safe driving. Visit NHTSA.gov for more information.