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Wisconsin State Patrol: Stay alert behind the wheel as daylight diminishes this Fall

By: Steve Schuster, [email protected]//October 4, 2023//

Wisconsin Reckless Driving

Wisconsin Department of Transportation photo

Wisconsin State Patrol: Stay alert behind the wheel as daylight diminishes this Fall

By: Steve Schuster, [email protected]//October 4, 2023//

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It’s Fall Y’all — and along with pumpkin spice and camp fires, that means dusk is also arriving sooner.

As fall settles in and the days get shorter, the Wisconsin State Patrol reminds motorists that driving at dusk or in the dark requires extra attention.

According to the State Patrol, while only one quarter of driving is done at night, 50% of traffic deaths in the U.S. happen at night, according to the National Safety Council.

The Wisconsin State Patrol’s October Law of the Month is safe driving at night. Driving when it’s dark can be more dangerous than driving in daylight because visibility is reduced, creating less time to react to others on the roads. Depth perception, color recognition and peripheral vision can also be compromised in the dark.

“We must all adapt as conditions change with the seasons. Our morning and evening commutes are more challenging in fall when there is less daylight, so we ask drivers to reduce your speed to compensate for limited visibility. Buckle up. Put the phone down to minimize distractions and focus on your most important task when behind the wheel,” said Wisconsin State Patrol Superintendent Tim Carnahan.

Check equipment for safe night driving

Drivers should inspect their vehicle’s equipment this time of year. Clean the windshield to eliminate streaks and avoid sun glare in the morning and evening hours, authorities said.

“Headlights and taillights are essential as daylight begins to decrease at dusk. Make sure lights are clean, aimed correctly and working properly,” officials noted.

Pursuant to Wisconsin Statutes, drivers must always use headlights during hours of darkness or when weather conditions limit visibility. It helps the driver see what’s ahead and helps other drivers see approaching vehicles, officials noted.

High beams also must be dimmed 500 feet upon approaching and while following traffic. Look away from oncoming vehicles to avoid the glare of headlights, which can cause temporary vision problems, authorities said.

Drivers with limited vision should wear anti-reflective glasses or contact lenses every trip behind the wheel. If seeing clearly at night is a significant problem, consider limiting driving to daytime hours, the State Patrol added.

Watch for pedestrians, deer

Drivers also need to be alert for the possibility of deer crossing the roads, especially in October and November when deer crashes peak in Wisconsin. There were more than 16,000 crashes involving deer in Wisconsin in 2022. Five people were killed and more than 500 were hurt in those incidents. Almost a quarter of those crashes happened in October and November, according to state officials.

October is Pedestrian Safety Month, to raise awareness that pedestrians are our most vulnerable road users in a crash. It can be more challenging to see them at dusk or at night, so drivers should be extra vigilant to share the roads with non-drivers. Slow down and give pedestrians and bicyclists extra room when passing, authorities said.

Officials said pedestrians should wear reflective clothing to help protect themselves. Bicyclists should use lights at night to be more visible. Click here to read about more safety tips for drivers and pedestrians online.

Recommendations for deer season:

  • Scan the road ahead carefully.
  • Deer can be seen at any time, but they’re most active in the early morning and evening hours.
  • Headlights can confuse a deer and cause it to freeze.
  • If one deer crosses, watch for more. Honk your horn to frighten away any other animals.
  • If you can’t avoid hitting a deer, brake firmly and stay in your lane. If there are other vehicles nearby, do not swerve suddenly. Colliding with another vehicle can result in a more serious crash than hitting a deer.

View the October Law of the Month video and news release online:


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