Remember to put your headlights on, as it gets dark earlier as fall progresses. (Metro Creative Services photo)

Remember to put your headlights on, as it gets dark earlier as fall progresses. (Metro Creative Services photo)

Editorial: Shorter days of fall mean changes to safety routines

The eye is easily fooled

While some days it doesn’t seem like it, what with setting high temperature records for this time of year, the fall season is upon us in other ways.

We know, it’s still often getting to mid-20s C during the day and the normal fall rains have yet to materialize. Rather than scraping frost off of our windshields in the mornings, we’re still trying to keep our gardens watered under water restrictions due to the drought we’re experiencing. Not normal October fare.

But what isn’t different this year is that the days are getting shorter. That warm sun is fading from the sky around 7 p.m. these days, not 10:30 p.m. like the height of summer. And that does change some things.

For instance, officials always warn us that this is the time of year when car accidents proliferate, as people find themselves unaccustomed after a summer of long days to driving home in the tricky twilight. The eye is easily fooled at this time of day, thinking there is more light than there really is.

Some drivers are even forgetting to put on their headlights for long stretches. At least one vehicle recently traversed the entire length of the Cowichan Valley from Mill Bay to Duncan without headlights as it got darker and darker as the drive went.

The vehicle had daytime running lights, but the catch with many vehicles that have those is that it does not turn on any lights at the back of the vehicle. Drivers might be surprised how fast a car disappears from view without tail lights, even on days when it is simply murky out (especially if it’s foggy).

Though every vehicle around this one had put their headlights on, the driver did not clue in — probably until they got home, if then.

Daytime running lights are better than being totally in the dark, but are not a substitute for headlights.

It’s also time for those who go out walking in the evening to think about wearing something lighted or reflective, possibly both.

While it is absolutely the responsibility of drivers not to hit pedestrians, no matter how they are dressed, walkers can improve their own safety with reflective vests and the like. The same goes for those on bicycles. Lights on your bike are good, but lights on your person as well are even better, and make you even more visible.

If you’re walking a dog, it’s also a good idea to have some kind of light attached to them as well. It’s a case of better safe than sorry.

So don’t let the balmy air fool you, fall is here in some ways and we need to remember to adapt as usual.