Construction not the only nighttime road hazard

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Local,Transportation,Liz Essley

Drivers navigating the D.C. area by moonlight must contend not only with construction, but also with drowsy drivers, drunk drivers and decreased visibility.

"It can be treacherous at night," said AAA Mid-Atlantic's John Townsend. "My fear is not only for motorists, but I also worry about the life and limbs of construction workers."

More than 120 workers die each year in highway and road construction accidents, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The odds are also stacked against night drivers: Fatal traffic collisions are three times more likely at night than during the day, according to the National Safety Council.

Drowsy drivers cause more than 100,000 car crashes every year, resulting in 1,500 deaths and 71,000 injuries, according to AAA.

"Most people, especially hard working and already fatigued and somnolent Washingtonians, tend to burn the proverbial candle at both ends," Townsend said. "Turns out, old Benjamin Franklin was right all along, 'Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise,' and safe on the highways, we might add."

Moreover, drunk drivers, who caused 44,440 fatal crashes in 2010, are four times more likely to kill someone at night than during the day, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

To fight limited visibility, the National Safety Council says to slow down and don't "overdrive your headlights" -- drivers should be able to stop within the distance illuminated by their headlights. The council also recommends aiming headlights properly, cleaning them off once a week and avoiding glare from other cars' headlights by watching the right edge of the road as a steering guide in two-way traffic.

lessley@washingtonexaminer.com

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Liz Essley

Staff Writer - Transportation
The Washington Examiner