Too Dark to Drive? (Nighttime Fatalities)

Cars driving at night road

Low-light and no-light conditions create considerable hazards for motorists and pedestrians in Nevada. Roughly 71% of fatalities involving pedestrians or cyclists occur after dark.

Pedestrian Fatalities in the United States

In 2017, 364 cyclists and 4,440 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle collisions in the United States. Of these, 71% occurred after dark. In all, nearly 33% occurred in no-light conditions, while 40% occurred in the vicinity of streetlights.

The number of pedestrian-involved accidents is alarmingly high. From 2015-2017, a total of 20,000 pedestrians were killed in the United States. Of these, 14,153 occurred after darkness fell. By comparison, during the same period, 5,009 pedestrian/cyclist fatalities occurred during daylight, 430 at dusk, and 321 at dawn. This data comes during a period that shows the overall rate of motor vehicle accident-related deaths in the United States is reaching record highs and climbing.

Causes of Pedestrian Accidents After Dark

Proximity to the lane of travel, lack of defined barriers and marked bike lanes, intoxication, and wearing dark clothing are common causes of pedestrian accidents after dark. Moreover, with more people commuting by bicycle and public transportation, there are more pedestrians and cyclists on the roads. It is a deadly mix that the data shows is only worsening. Often, the severity of the injury depends on many contributing factors, including whether the cyclist wore a helmet, whether bollards were present, and whether the cyclist or pedestrian took steps to brake or swerve to avoid the collision.

Reducing the Risk

The best way to reduce fatality rates is to reduce the risk. Pedestrians and cyclists can significantly lower the risk of an accident by:

  • Riding on well-lit roads equipped with marked bike lanes and intersections governed by traffic lights.
  • Wearing bright, snugly fitting clothing with reflective strips affixed to both the back and front.
  • Wearing a well-fitting, high-quality helmet.
  • Avoiding roads with road construction or frequent traffic congestion.
  • Avoiding listening to music or engaging in other distractions while riding.
  • Never riding while intoxicated or overly tired.

Eliminating these contributing factors won’t eliminate the risk, but it can significantly curtail known hazards. Likewise, motorists should exercise considerable care when driving during any period of time when low-light conditions reduce visibility.