Halloween's ghosts and goblins herald return of an even bigger fright: Early darkness to Hayward, Winter and the entire Sawyer County region.
Daylight Savings Time ends at 2 a.m. November 4 in Wisconsin, which will quickly bring encroaching darkness to the roads and areas of Lac Courte Oreiles, Grindstone Lake, Round Lake, Moose Lake and countless others.
Cross-country skiing and snowmobiling is just around the corner.
Our personal injury lawyers in Hayward and Winter urge you to use caution as dusk comes to your afternoon commute. Bicyclists and pedestrians are at particularly high risk, beginning with this week's trick-or-treat events and Halloween.
Halloween week is the most dangerous of the year for pedestrians. But winter darkness increases the risks for everyone.
The National Safety Council reports the risk of a fatal crash is three times greater at night.
Depth perception, color recognition and peripheral vision can be compromised in the dark, and the glare of headlights from an oncoming vehicle can temporarily blind a driver. Even with high-beam headlights on, visibility is limited to about 500 feet (250 feet for normal headlights), creating less time to react to something in the road. All of these factors make driving at night more dangerous, regardless of whether or not the roads are familiar. Statistics show half of all traffic deaths occur at night, despite only a quarter of drivers taking to the road at night.
Common Causes of Night Collisions in Wisconsin
Fatigued driving is another common risk that comes with early darkness. And fatigued drivers are a drastically underestimated cause of motor-vehicle collisions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 100,000 police-reported crashes occur each year are a result of driver fatigue.
Drunk drivers are another primary threat, particularly as we head into the end-of-year holiday season. Wisconsin Department of Transportation reports more than 5,000 alcohol-related traffic crashes occur on state roads, injuring someone every 3 hours. A disproportionate number of those occur after dark, and through the holiday period.
Distracted driving is always a problem. But darkness means a driver's reaction time is already reduced. In addition, looking at the bright lights of smartphones or onboard electronics can degrade your night vision and your ability to see what's beyond the windshield. Deer collisions are another serious concern on the road this time of year. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports motorists collide with deer on Wisconsin roads an average of 56 times per day. The risks peek in November, when more than 200 motorists a day collide with a deer in the roadway. In 2016, eleven people died and 378 were injured in vehicle-deer crashes in Wisconsin. More than 20,000 property damage collisions were reported.
Motorists are urged to slow down after dark. Avoid taking evasive action when encountering deer in the roadway, which can cause serious secondary incidents, including head-on collisions and roadway departure.
This is the time of year when a reminder of the risks can go a long way toward preventing a tragedy.