The annual autumnal time change is associated primarily with earlier sunsets, but fatigue due to disrupted sleep patterns is another side effect.
Between darkness suddenly occurring during the duration of the evening rush hour, and bleary-eyed drivers, the time change can actually be a safety hazard on the roads.
AAA Mid-Atlantic this week issued a lengthy press release that included the following tips to stay safe over the next couple of days.
Time shift safety tips for pedestrians:
- See and be seen – drivers need to see you to avoid you.
- Make eye contact with drivers when crossing streets.
- Wear bright colors or reflective clothing and/or accessories at night.
- Carry a flashlight when walking in the dark.
- Cross only at intersections or crosswalks. Look left, right and left again and only cross when it is clear.
- Do not jaywalk or cross between parked cars.
- Evaluate the distance and speed of oncoming traffic before you step out into the street.
- Avoid walking in traffic where there are no sidewalks or crosswalks. If you have to walk on a road that does not have sidewalks, walk facing traffic.
- Do not let umbrellas or jacket hoods block your view of approaching traffic.
- While walking, pocket the cell phone and avoid listening to your music player at a volume that prohibits you from hearing approaching danger.
Time change tips for drivers:
- Pay attention and eliminate all distractions including cell phones and car clocks that are off an hour!
- Remember to yield the right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks. Do not pass vehicles stopped at crosswalks.
- Watch for children and families in neighborhoods and along school bus routes, at intersections, and when backing out of driveways.
- Turn on your headlights. Make yourself more visible during early morning and evening hours.
- Keep vehicle headlights and windows (inside and out) clean.
- Do not use high beams when other cars or pedestrians are around.
- Teen drivers should exercise extra caution.
- Inspect all lights and bulbs and replace burned out ones. Clean road grime or clouding from all lenses.
- Slow down during rain and fog.
The rest of the press release, after the jump.
Metered parking will not be enforced, according to county officials, but trash and recycling will operate on a normal schedule.
Arlington County Police will also close several roads, including some major arteries, throughout the area to facilitate festive Fourth of July crowds. From ACPD:
6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
- Memorial Bridge / Memorial Circle
1:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
- Marshall Drive from Route 110 to N. Meade Street
- N. Meade St. from 14th St. to Marshall Dr.
3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
- Meade Street from Marshall Drive to Route 50 (access to the Ft. Myer Heights neighborhood will be from the Rhodes Street bridge)
- Exit ramp from westbound Route 50 to N. Lynn Street (Rosslyn exit)
- Exit ramp from eastbound Route 50 to N. Meade Street (Rosslyn exit)
- Long Bridge Dr. from Boundary Channel Dr. to 10th Street S.
8:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
- Eastbound Route 50 at Washington Blvd. All traffic diverted from Rt. 50 on ramps to East and West Washington Blvd.
- Eastbound 10th St. N. ramp to eastbound Rt. 50 will be closed, all traffic diverted to westbound Rt. 50
- Courthouse Rd. ramp to eastbound Rt. 50 will be closed, all traffic diverted to westbound Rt. 50 or 10th St. N.
- Pershing Dr. at Rt. 50 will only be allowed westbound
- Eastbound N. Fairfax Drive from N. Pierce Street to N. Fort Myer Drive
- Columbia Pike between S. Orme Street and S. Joyce St.
- Joyce Street between Army Navy Drive and Columbia Pike
Police have also warned that street parking around the Iwo Jima Memorial, Long Bridge Park and the Air Force Memorial will be restricted for the holiday.
Residents planning on skipping town for the holiday should take note: A record-breaking 1 million D.C. area residents will leave for the long weekend, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic, with most of them driving. Reagan National Airport should also be busy; about 77,000 residents are expected to leave town on a plane.
The lowest fuel prices in a decade and the holiday falling on a Monday are driving those record-breaking numbers, the AAA said in a press release.
For those staying in Arlington, we’ve published a list of local fireworks viewing spots.
Flickr pool photo by Rob Cannon
If you’re planning on leaving home this Memorial Day weekend, you’re not alone.
According to AAA Mid-Atlantic, nearly 966,000 D.C. area residents will travel at least 50 miles for the holiday.
This is the highest travel estimate in the last 11 years and it represents a nearly two percent increase over the 951,000 residents who traveled at this time last year, according to AAA.
The heaviest congestion on area roads is predicted to occur Thursday afternoon between 5-6 p.m.
“The great American road trip is back due to cheaper gas prices. We’re seeing this play out for Memorial Day, with a projected 869,600 people in the Washington metro planning to drive to their Memorial Day destinations,” said AAA’s John Townsend, in a press release.
Gas prices this year are noticeably lower compared to previous years with the national average at $2.29 a gallon, 45 cents cheaper than a year ago. Prices in the D.C. area are also down, averaging $2.28 a gallon, 41 cents cheaper.
Along with the roads, air travel is also expected to increase with a predicted number of 69,100 people expected to fly, a 1.7 percent increase from last year’s numbers.
AAA Mid-Atlantic says losing an hour of sleep Sunday morning could produce more drowsy driving all week.
The organization issued the following press release on Friday.
Wake up sleepyhead. Blame it on old Benjamin Franklin. The sleepiness begins again at 2 a.m. this coming Sunday. The time shift in the wee hours can break the sleep cycle and the “grogginess can persist all day” in a nation that already doesn’t get adequate sleep. Insomnia is deadly behind the wheel. Nearly 1 in 3 drivers (32 percent) confessed they were so tired they drove drowsy during the previous 30 days, according to the latest research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The number of nodding drivers on the road might increase during next Monday’s commute times, the day after the biannual transition to and from Daylight Saving Time.
The “first six days of daylight saving time can prove dangerous for drivers and other highway users,” some research suggests. However, other researchers say their studies demonstrated “that transitions into and out of daylight saving time did not increase the number of traffic road accidents.”
“The shift in time can engender a shift in circadian rhythm. Drowsiness can slow reaction time as much as driving drunk, and it can be just as dangerous, research shows. Too many people drive under the influence of sleep,” said Tom Calcagni, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Director of Public and Government Affairs.
The northbound lanes of the parkway were closed just past the Spout Run Parkway after a tour bus engine exploded and leaked oil and diesel fuel on the roadway — at 9:30 last night.
One lane opened reopened just before 1:00 p.m. as crews continue to try to clean up the second lane.
The auto association said the National Park Service, which manages the parkway, is either too underfunded or too inept to effectively run a major commuter route. In a statement, below, AAA says today’s closure and the recent lane closures on the corroding Memorial Bridge demonstrate the park service’s “inability to appropriately manage transportation facilities under its control.”
Enough is enough. Today we have had yet another transportation travesty in our region via the National Park Service (NPS) and its inability to appropriately manage transportation facilities under its control. The closure of the GW Parkway northbound for over 12 hours–through the morning rush–as a result of a crash that happened around 9:30 pm the night before is outrageous and cost tens of thousands of commuters this morning untold hours caught in congestion, as commuters jam packed alternative routes. This fiasco comes only weeks after restrictions were placed on the NPS operated Memorial Bridge because of a failure to properly maintain the structure. This is not a new problem for NPS and its roadways. In 1997, AAA led an effort with local members of Congress to force the NPS to barrier separate the traffic flows on the GW Parkway to end a series of head-on collisions that had taken several lives. We are sure that for today’s outrageous and unnecessary disruption of this morning’s rush, the NPS will once again plead inadequate funding.”
It is time for Congress to either appropriately fund the Park Service’s transportation needs, or get the NPS out of the transportation business. Major unnecessary disruptions to an already over-taxed transportation network that already has some of the nation’s most congested arteries must be avoided. In a region that is currently discussing the need for more Potomac River crossings, having to limit the ones we have because of neglect is unacceptable. In an area that needs more rush hour capacity, closing half of a major commuter artery during morning rush-hour because of poor incident management of a crash that happened the night before is unacceptable. AAA Mid-Atlantic calls upon our regional Congressional delegation to find a prudent solution to the repetitive and costly transportation failures of the NPS in the Washington Metro area.
The announcement is timed to coincide with Bike to Work Day and will be made at a Bike to Work Day pit stop in D.C.
“To encourage bicycle commuting, which is growing exponentially across the region, AAA Mid-Atlantic will debut the addition of its new roadside assistance service for bicyclists,” the organization said in a media advisory Thursday.
“Starting on Bike To Work Day, the AAA bicycle service will be immediately available to nearly four million AAA Mid-Atlantic members within the club’s Mid-Atlantic footprint, which includes the entire Washington Metro Area, and it applies to all bicycles and bicycle rentals.”
The service is already being advertised on the organization’s website.
A number of other regional AAA branches across the country, including in the Pacific Northwest and New England, already offer the service.
Pothole-filled roads have been reported around the county and there have also been scattered accounts of flat tires and other pothole-related damage.
Arlington County has an online form for reporting potholes. Yesterday, we asked readers to report, via Twitter, the location of some of the worst potholes in Arlington. Here are some of the responses:
- “All of Wilson Blvd heading towards Ballston from 7 Corners to Glebe. It’s like off-roading.” (@isaachulvey)
- “Sycamore between 26th and Lee Highway” (@aoadair)
- “Courthouse Rd from Clarendon Blvd leading down to 50. Was only it last night and there’s literally craters from 14th down” (@mel_shoe)
- “Veitch St. right near Corner Bakery, nearest cross street is Clarendon Blvd. Absolutely horrendous potholes in a couple spots” (@vizzle311)
- “George Mason and N Pershing, same pothole comes back each time they fill it” (@RobertoClaure)
- “Old Dominion from Glebe to Williamsburg Blvd” (@JohnVasapoli)
- “Henderson Road and Thomas Street has become a nightmare over the past week! 3 potholes in the same stretch, no way to dodge” (@eablack)
- “Spout Run Pkwy between Lee Highway and GWPkwy, both ways” (@michbttx)
- “Construction zone on Glebe from just south of Columbia Pike to the post office. 6+ months now, no improvement. Maddening.” (@Ariadnes_Thread)
- “Nash St in Rosslyn, btwn Key Blvd and Wilson is atrocious. It is just one big pothole after another.” (@kylekeller)
- “The N-B stretch of S. Shirlington Rd. off 395N has been a disaster for over a year.” (@KyleFisherMBA)
- “Four Mile Run Rd between Geo Mason and Col Pike” (@dtwynn)
- “On Barton at 10th, heading toward 9th. As you head up hill, giant trench. Part fixed, but huge hole still there to right side.” (@samerfarha)
- “Fillmore between 10th and Clarendon Blvd. there are 4-5 huge ones!” (@emilylynnwalsh)
- “Corner of 28th Street S and 26th Street S” (@spencer4fsu)
- “On Carlin Springs Road by the bridge over George Mason Dr. Both sides” (@GusMacker1)
One more big problem spot of note: the George Washington Parkway, near Spout Run Parkway, which was partially shut down this morning for repairs after “over a dozen cars” were damaged by potholes.
Arlington County says crews are now tackling potholes on major roads, with plans to get to neighborhood streets a bit later in the spring. From Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jessica Baxter:
It’s been a rough winter season on our roads, particularly with the amount of frozen precipitation and sustained periods of extreme cold temperatures. As we enter this spring season, it is our priority to get crews out there to make potholes repairs. We will do so for the next two months beginning with major arterials. This will include working late into some evenings on non-arterial streets, as well as scheduling teams for Saturday work when weather allows.
AAA Mid-Atlantic issued a press release this morning, suggesting that drivers should file claims for pothole damage against local governments. The press release (reprinted, after the jump) also has tips for avoiding potholes.
AAA Thanksgiving Travel Forecast — About 1.1 million Washington area residents will travel 50 more more miles this Thanksgiving holiday, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic. That’s up 3.1 percent over 2013. About 90 percent of those travelers will journey to grandma’s house via automobile, AAA says. The lowest gas prices since Dec. 2010 are helping to drive some additional travel this year. [Reston Now]
What’s Next for the Pike? — Now that the streetcar is dead, articulated buses may be next for Columbia Pike. But that would require reinforcing the roadway and building a new bus depot. [Greater Greater Washington]
Beyer Joins ‘New Democrat Coalition’ — Arlington’s newly-elected representative in Congress, Don Beyer, has joined the House New Democrat Coalition, a group of pro-growth Democrats. [Blue Virginia]
Moran Laments Loss of Earmarks — Outgoing Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) says earmarks, while demonized by the media and some politicians, actually helped the legislative process. The loss of earmarks has slowed Congress to a crawl, Moran said. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
GOP, Democrats Support Amendment — The Arlington County Republican and Democratic committees agree on at least one thing: they both support a proposed Virginia constitutional amendment that would exempt the the principal residence of a fallen U.S. servicemember’s spouse from taxation. [InsideNova]
Chamber Launches Program for Young Entrepreneurs — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce has launched a local affiliate of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy program. The program will help students ages 11-18 develop entrepreneurial skills after school. [Patch]
AAA Warns of Sun Glare — AAA is warning that sun glare could make the evening commute more hazardous for east-to-west commuters through the end of daylight saving time on Nov. 3. “Motorists should take additional precautions to avoid being blinded by the light including wearing sunglasses, cleaning their windshields, slowing down, and altering their commutes whenever possible,” said AAA Mid-Atlantic’s John Townsend.
Photo courtesy @jdsonder
Today Is Terrible Traffic Tuesday — AAA Mid-Atlantic has again dubbed today Terrible Traffic Tuesday. With vacations over and kids back in school, rush hour trips are expected to increase in length by 26 percent today, on average. Washington, the auto club says, has the worst rush hour traffic in the nation. [AAA Mid-Atlantic]
Fairfax School May Be Model for Arlington — Fairfax County unveiled a new five-story urban-style elementary school, with tech-laden and light-filled classrooms. The school, in the Seven Corners area, may be a model for a future school in Arlington, which is struggling to find enough open space for new schools. [InsideNova]
Shuttleworth Wins Pie-Eating Contest — Bowen Shuttleworth, the son of former Congressional candidate Bruce Shuttleworth and an emerging track champ, emerged victorious in the pie-eating contest (photo, above) at the annual Arlington County Democratic Committee Labor Day chili cookoff on Monday. The cookoff itself was interrupted by thunderstorms.
Flickr pool photo by Alan Kotok
The change will result in an extra hour of daylight in the evening, but will come at the cost of darker mornings and an hour of lost sleep.
AAA Mid-Atlantic warns that the change can leave drivers drowsy on Monday morning. The automobile association issued the following press release, urging drivers to make sure to get at least 7 hours of sleep.
Come Monday morning, many drivers may have lost a spring in their step and may not be fully alert as they travel to work and school.
What’s more, many motorists may now be faced with a darker morning drive or sun glare from a rising, as well as setting sun depending on their commuting times, advises AAA Mid-Atlantic. Losing an hour of sleep and the change in daylight hours means motorists may potentially experience drowsy driving and added distractions of the road. In addition to the change of daylight, children, pedestrians, joggers, walker, bicyclists and motorcyclists will likely be more active outdoors. For safety’s sake, it behooves motorists to keep a watchful eye for all highway users as the days become longer.
“Each spring we go through the ritual of setting our clocks forward one hour. While some believe ‘just an hour’ of lost sleep is not significant, many people, who are already sleep deprived going into the weekend, are more likely to be impaired from an attention and safety standpoint,” said Mahlon G. (Lon) Anderson, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Managing Director of Public and Government Affairs. “A change in time can affect people physically and drivers can be more tired than they realize.”
To prevent this, AAA Mid-Atlantic recommends people, especially motorists, prepare in advance for the time change by increasing their sleep time in the days ahead and getting a good night’s sleep on Sunday.” An estimated 17 percent of fatal crashes, 13 percent of crashes resulting in hospitalization, and seven percent of all crashes requiring a tow involve a drowsy driver, according to a 2010 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 crashes a year. The actual figure may be higher because police can’t always determine with certainty when driver fatigue results or is a contributory factor in a crash.
“You are getting sleepy, very sleepy.” AAA Mid-Atlantic advises motorists to make sure they get adequate sleep before getting behind the wheel of their vehicle. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that most adults get 7-9 hours of sleep to maintain proper alertness during the day. Studies show that sleep needs vary by age group.
Nearly 2.4 million people, or about 41 percent of the metro region’s population, are expected to travel 50 miles or more during the time period from this Saturday, December 21, through Wednesday, January 1. That’s a small increase of 0.1 percent over last year. This will be the fifth consecutive year for such an increase, and the highest recorded travel volume for the winter holiday season.
“Unfortunately, a number of Washingtonians sat out three of the first four holiday travel periods of the year as an upshot of all the political drama in the nation’s capital and the economic stress it engendered. But they will not be denied nor deny themselves or their families during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday travel period,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs.
Air travel is expected to slightly decline to 129,300 travelers, compared with 130,400 last year. The number of people traveling by train or bus is also down this year, by about two percent. Automobile travel, however, is expected to increase by 0.3 percent, to more than 2.1 million people.
D.C. metro area residents plan on traveling an average of 965 miles for the holidays. That’s up from 805 miles last year.
AAA Mid-Atlantic is reminding motorists to drive carefully in wet weather.
The association sent out the following press release this afternoon.
As the coastal storm continues through the Washington metro area today, motorists will face hazardous driving conditions during their evening commute due to rain and standing water, warns AAA Mid-Atlantic. The auto club is advising motorists to exercise caution when driving.
“Commuters heading home tonight will face the same hazardous weather conditions as this morning’s drive to work,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “When driving in wet weather remember to buckle up, slow down, and keep a safe distance from the car in front of you. Also, remember, it’s the law in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia to turn your headlights on if your windshield wipers are in use.”
To minimize the hazards associated with wet weather driving, AAA Mid-Atlantic recommends the following precautions for navigating in heavy rain, reduced visibility and slick pavement:
- Slow down and increase following distances. Speed limits are set for ideal road conditions. When it rains, visibility is reduced and braking distances increase. On dry pavement, a safe following distance permits two to three seconds for stopping; that should be increased to eight seconds on slippery roads. Train your eyes farther down the road than normal, so you can anticipate changes and adjust your course gradually.
- Do not attempt to drive through standing water on the roads that look too deep. Avoid bridges and roads that are known to flood. When driving on pothole-filled roads, hold the steering wheel firmly to avoid losing control. Just a few inches of water can turn your vehicle into a boat, and could put your life, and the lives of those around you, at great risk. Turn around; find another way to get to your destination.
- Watch out for hydroplaning. No car is immune from hydroplaning on wet surfaces, including four-wheel drive vehicles. Just because brakes work under normal conditions doesn’t mean they will react the same on slippery roads where tires roll with far less traction.
- Alert drivers behind you that you’re slowing with your brake lights. Without anti-lock brakes, squeeze the brakes until they are about to lock up and then release. With anti-lock brakes, use the same move – but don’t pump the brakes, which would work against the operation of the ABS system. Slow down as you approach a pothole. However, do not brake when your vehicle is directly over a pothole.
- Use the central lanes. When driving during heavy rain, use center lanes of the road (without straddling the yellow line). Avoid outside lanes where the water collects at curbside.
- Use low-beam headlights to help other drivers see your car and increase visibility.
- Use your defroster with your air conditioning to keep the air dry and prevent windows from fogging.
- Do not drive around barricades. Many lives have been lost when drivers disregard official orders and find themselves trapped in rising waters.
- Turn off the cruise control in wet weather driving. The use of cruise control on wet roads can cause hydroplaning.
- If conditions worsen to the point where there is any doubt about your safety, take the nearest exit and find a safe location. Don’t just stop on the shoulder or under a bridge where you may feel less anxiety. If your visibility is compromised, other drivers may be struggling too.
- Watch for slick spots on the road. Fumes and oil leaks that build up on dry pavement rise to the surface of the road when it rains, making the road far slicker than it may seem.
The organization estimates that 811,500 people will travel at least 50 miles this weekend, a 2.6 percent increase from 2012. Of those travelers, 707,000 — or 87 percent — are expected to travel by car. About 8 percent will travel by air and 5 percent will travel by train, bus or boat, AAA projects.
AAA says the average traveler will journey about 600 miles, which is close to the national average. Gas prices are “unlikely to be a major factor for people in determining whether they will travel this Labor Day,” even though most consider the current national average of $3.54 a gallon “too high,” according to AAA.
“Call it summer’s last fling,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “After staying put throughout the summer, Washingtonians are yearning for travel, so they are getting the heck out of town for Labor Day. In fact, this is the fourth year of increases in local Labor Day travelers in the Washington metro area.”
“The effect of sequestration is still felt locally,” Townsend continued. “However, local residents can now gauge its full impact on their discretionary budgets with the recent announcement that the number of civilian furlough days has been reduced from 11 to six. That’s enough unanticipated good news to put folks around here in the mood to travel.”
In Virginia alone, nearly 72,000 DoD employees are affected by furloughs, which require one unpaid day off per week for 11 weeks. The state is expected to be particularly hard hit by the cuts due to the Pentagon being housed in Arlington.
It’s too early to definitively claim furloughs will ease traffic congestion, but AAA believes fewer people on the road could lead to less gridlock and fewer accidents. In fact, the organization suggests commutes could resemble those of July and August, when the region experiences its lowest traffic volume and rate of accidents.
“For all other workers, the morning and evening commutes to the daily grind could look like it does on any of the ten federal holidays in the Washington metro area or on Fridays, when federal workers use their flex-time schedules or compressed work weeks (AWS) to take time off,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs.
AAA predicts Metrorail and Metrobus ridership may be affected as well. According to WMATA, nearly half of peak period commuters are federal employees and 35 Metrorail stations serve federal facilities, including the Pentagon in Arlington.
Rep. Jim Moran (D) took to Twitter earlier today to express his displeasure with the furloughs. He also sent the following statement to ARLnow.com:
“Due to sequestration, today marked the first of 11 furlough days for 650,000 DOD civilian employees. This 20 percent pay cut is the unfortunate and shameful result of Congress’ failure to work together to find an appropriate way to reduce the federal debt and deficit. I voted against the Budget Control Act that set up sequestration not only because it focused solely on cutting discretionary spending at the expense of increased revenues, but I feared that the Supercommittee could not find compromise. Congress must make tough choices, but we cannot balance the budget on the backs of our federal workers.”