Leading up to this weekend’s clock change, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Harlem’s Ydanis Rodriguez and others today issued an alert to New York City drivers about the increased dangers of driving this time of year, when drivers and pedestrians are at increased risk during dusk and evening hours. The de Blasio Administration last week announced the return of its Vision Zero Dusk and Darkness initiative that includes stepped-up NYPD enforcement against unsafe driving during fall and winter dusk hours, which have traditionally been the most dangerous time of year for pedestrians. Those same hours have also been highly correlated to deer-mating activity and deer-related crashes on New York City roadways, especially in the Bronx and on Staten Island.
“While we all can be grateful for an extra hour’s sleep this coming weekend, at the same time we all need to stay mindful of the driving dangers of the darker fall and winter months,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “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.”
“As Daylight Saving Time ends, a dangerous time period on our roads – especially for pedestrians – begins,” said NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill. “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.”
“Our research shows that rush-hour driving in newly dark evenings of the fall can be a perilous combination for pedestrians, and with deer also out in greater numbers, drivers need to be especially vigilant during this season” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “We know from our Dusk and Darkness efforts that vision is compromised enormously as the sun sets, which now happens during the busiest evening rush hours. As part of Vision Zero, we are reminding New Yorkers that in the colder, darker months ahead, they need to exercise extra caution and slow down.”
For the best picks, get HWM's must read newsletter!
“Deer are a relatively new traffic danger that New Yorkers should watch out for,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “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 NYPD, DOT and NYCParks detailed the three dangers of the season:
DOT has conducted extensive analysis of year-over-year crash trends, noting that:
- Vision experts note that visual acuity can decrease by as much as 90% 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.
- Deer can appear without warning on roadways, so be alert. The animals are most active in the evening and early morning, especially during the mating season — going on now.
- To avoid collisions, drive the posted speed limit. Scan the road ahead and avoid distractions.
- If a deer runs in front of your vehicle, brake firmly but do not swerve. Swerving can take a motorist into oncoming traffic or off the road.
- If you strike a deer, call 911 immediately. Do not touch or get close to the animal. it may be injured and could behave frantically, causing further safety risks.
- Learn more about living alongside deer in New York City at www.nyc.gov/wildlife
- Daylight Saving Time ends this Sunday, November 5 at 2am, when clocks “fall back” one hour. Sunsets happening this week just before 6pm will be before 5pm next week, at the height of the evening rush hour.
- In addition to the increased NYPD enforcement during these hours, the Dusk and Darkness campaign will employ afternoon and evening drive-time radio advertising, reminding drivers to obey the speed limit, watch for pedestrians and turn slowly.
“We all know during the upcoming winter months, drivers need to heed caution and drive with extra care,” said Congress Member Joe Crowley. “The fact is, as darkness sets on our roads, the potential for accidents rises. The safety of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians alike must continue to be priority number one and I commend the City for implementing the Dusk and Darkness Initiative as part of its Vision Zero program.”
“Whether we’re going for a quick stop to the neighborhood store or crossing the entirety of Staten Island, safer roads are a responsibility we all have when we get behind the wheel,” said Assembly Member Matthew Titone. “The reality is we all need to slow down and take the recommendations in the Vision Zero Dusk and Darkness Initiative seriously. Now more than ever, we Staten Islanders must learn to adapt to the new hazards deer pose to us when driving.”
“As the winter approaches, we have to make sure that New Yorkers are educated on the dangers of the day getting darker earlier,” said Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez. “November is the deadliest time for deer. To avoid deer crashes, drivers should be aware that deer are likely to be out during the evening. Drivers have to be aware of deer-crossing signs and fences, and also make sure that they’re wearing seat belts to prevent greater damage in case of a deer crash.”
“As we turn back our clocks and start to prepare for fall and winter holidays, I also want to urge my constituents to be extra alert while driving in the coming weeks,” said Council Member Debi Rose. “With the sun going down earlier each evening, we should all be more vigilant for pedestrians, cyclists and an increased population of deer, who are more likely to come into roadways during mating season. Be reminded also that NYPD will step up enforcement during these hours to better ensure the safety of all Staten Islanders.”
In 2017, as part of Vision Zero, DOT has implemented its most aggressive street redesign safety program, with increased investment in street redesign and traffic-calming measures citywide. DOT has improved the safety at a record number of dangerous intersections and thoroughfares, expecting to install more than 25 miles of protected bike lanes this year along key high-traffic corridors like Queens Boulevard and 111th Street in Queens, as well as 5th Avenue, 7th Avenue and Park Row in Manhattan. DOT will this year also install a record number of leading pedestrian intervals (LPIs) – more than 800 – to give pedestrians a head start while crossing the street.
For more information about the de Blasio Administration’s Vision Zero initiative, please see www.nyc.gov/visionzero.