With New York City turning the clocks back an hour this weekend, the Five Boroughs will experience earlier darkness in the weeks ahead — increasing the hazards for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists alike.
In response, the NYPD launched Thursday its annual “Dusk and Darkness” campaign warning drivers to be wary of low visibility during the winter months while also deploying greater outreach to help save lives.
NYPD Chief of Transportation Kim Royster, assistant commissioner for education and outreach at the Department of Transportation Kim Wiley-Schwartz, and others spoke about the importance of remaining vigilant as the night rolls in earlier during a Nov. 4 press conference outside One Police Plaza.
“Historical data has told us that pedestrians and cyclists are more frequently struck by vehicles in the early evening hours during the months there’s fewer daylight hours such as November, December, and January,” said Royster.
This is the program’s sixth fall/winter season since Mayor Bill de Blasio introduced it in 2016. With more drivers and pedestrian traffic expected to be out and about this winter, in comparison to last year thanks to COVID-19 vaccines, Royster told amNewYork Metro that safety is more important than ever.
“More people are on the roads. Not only is the city opening up, more people are choosing to drive and take public transportation, so we will be aware,” Royster said.
The NYPD will be conducting outreach programs to help educate drivers on the dangers of low visibility. The primary educational tool is a poster showing photos of two halves of the same street, the images taken 20 minutes before and 20 minutes after sunset. The stark contrast showed just how swiftly clarity and visibility can diminish in the late fall and early winter months.
In addition to the educational promotion, Royster explained that officers will be deployed at locations where cyclists and those on foot are more likely to be injured by drivers, while also affirming that the NYPD will be observing driver behavior.
“Officers will be deployed at sunset and will focus on drivers that fail to yield to pedestrians and cyclists and who speed and drive recklessly. Precinct traffic and safety teams in the seven precincts will be at vehicle safety checkpoints around the city, focusing on hazardous violations that put our pedestrians, cyclists, seniors, and children at risk. Police officers will focus on drivers that fail to yield, text, and use their cell phones. Now traffic safety agents, which are our eyes and ears in the department, they will be addressing vehicles that block the bus lanes and the bike lanes, and are double-parked,” Royster said.
Partnering with the NYPD, Wiley-Schwartz reiterated just how deadly the early nights can be.
“This Sunday at 2 a.m. marks the end of daylight saving time, and so as the chief said we’re back again for Dusk and Darkness campaign to remind motorists that darker evening hours that start next week create the most dangerous times of the year,” Wiley-Schwartz said. “As we enter into this darker fall in winter months, we asked drivers to slow down and be mindful of pedestrians in the crosswalk. Children walking home from school or perhaps to eat at an open restaurant.”
For those failing to respect traffic laws this winter, the NYPD warns criminals that they will face the full wrath of the men and women in blue.
“One fatality is one too many and we believe that traffic is public safety,” Royster said.