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Short days, long nights pose dangers for pedestrians

Daylight saving time ended on Nov. 4, meaning Minnesota motorists will spend more time driving in the dark. According to experts, this can lead to an increase in accidents involving cars and pedestrians.

The Governors Highway Safety Association reports that 75 percent of all pedestrian deaths in 2016 happened after the sun had set. Further, a 2004 study published in Accident Analysis and Prevention found that eliminating the annual "fall back" and keeping an extra hour of sunlight in the evening would prevent over 170 pedestrian deaths every year. This is one of the reasons California recently voted to do away with twice-yearly time changes and keep daylight saving time all year round. However, the downside is that lighter evenings mean darker mornings for pedestrian commuters.

The best solution is for drivers and pedestrians to do all they can to travel safely in the dark. According to traffic safety experts, drivers need to slow down, avoid using cellphones and pay attention to their surroundings at all times. Pedestrians also need to avoid distractions and stay focused on where they are walking. They shouldn't use cellphones or wear headphones when crossing streets. They should also use crosswalks and avoid unsafe behaviors like crossing in the middle of a street or dashing between cars. In fact, a doctor at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles suggested that pedestrians should pretend they are invisible once the sun goes down and never assume drivers can see them.

Auto-pedestrian accidents typically lead to serious injuries like broken bones, spine injuries, neck injuries and brain damage. However, an attorney could help injured pedestrians take legal action against the driver who struck them. If successful, compensation could be awarded for medical expenses and other losses that have been incurred.

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