The annual end and beginning of daylight savings time often kicks off a predictable debate among advocates of enforcing daylight saving time year around and those who want the divisions to remain where they are. Time magazine, for example, quotes a University of Wisconsin professor who advocates keeping DST year-round as saying that more light later in the day would be safer, as more people are out and about later in the day. On the other hand, groups like the National Parents Teachers Association believe that keeping DST is important for child safety, as children benefit from light in the morning, when they are going to school.
A unifier in the debate, though, is the belief that “better light equals greater safety,” as Time puts it. Car accidents go up when darkness increases: an estimated 40% of traffic accidents occur either in the very early morning, when it is still dark, or after roughly 4 p.m., when it begins to get dark in the winter.
Therefore, many people concerned with traffic safety argue simply for more light. Time quotes Margaux Mennesson of Safe Routes to School, an organization dedicated to student safety, as observing that “the more visible kids are, the safer they are.” Safety specialists believe that routes need improved lights in streets (both in number and in wattage), in community areas such as schools, and reflective devices at crosswalks.
It is also important for parents and care providers to use light as safety devices when walking or biking to school. Children must wear reflective strips on their clothing or bicycles, and adults accompanying them should as well.
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