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Crashes increase when the sun sets earlier: Lights on, slow down, look around

The days are getting shorter, and as the sun sets earlier and earlier, it's becoming a more dangerous time on the road during your evening commute.
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Posted at 11:18 AM, Sep 28, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-28 12:18:43-04

MILWAUKEE — Like it or not — it's happening. The days are getting shorter, and as the sun sets earlier and earlier, it's becoming a more dangerous time on the road during your evening commute.

The biggest takeaway is simple, be aware. And on the road in the fall, that means 'lights on, slow down, look around'. It's the message behind a new campaign.

"Nationally, 75% of pedestrian-involved crashes are occurring at the nighttime hours," explained Jake Newborn, the assistant director of the Wisconsin Bike Federation. "So we're trying to raise awareness about that, and ask drivers to be more aware."

The Bike Fed is partnering with the Wisconsin DOT and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to spread the word on digital billboards. And if you've got the radio on you'll hear the same reminder.

"In the fall it's getting darker, earlier and there are still people commuting," added Newborn.

The danger is not anecdotal. A Milwaukee crash analysis, released by the city's Department of Public Works, shows an increasing number of pedestrian fatalities have happened in darkness in recent years. Crashes involving bicycles follow a similar pattern.

"Having lights on a bicycle is the law," said Newborn. "So having a front, white light and at least a back, red reflector." But the Bike Fed says the responsibility is not on bicyclists alone — every user of the road needs to be aware and alert.

Click here to read six tips to consider when transitioning to riding your bike in the fall months.