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French road safety agency warns of danger as clocks go back

Clocks ‘went back’ last night, meaning that evenings will now get darker earlier. One road safety expert has warned of ways to remain visible while cycling or walking on the roads

A cyclist riding on a road at night

Cyclists should be especially careful and wear reflective strips at night, and drivers should be alert to other road users when visibility is lower Pic: M.mphoto / Shutterstock

French road safety association la Prévention Routière has warned of the increased danger on the roads now that the clocks have gone back for winter, issuing warnings to drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians.

Clocks ‘went back’ for winter last night (Sunday, October 30). This means that at 3:00, it became 2:00, giving everyone an ‘extra hour’. However, it also means that it will now begin to get dark one hour earlier, and as winter progresses, it will get dark earlier and earlier.

This increases the risk of dangerous situations on the roads, said Anne Lavaud, general delegate of the Prévention Routière association, in an interview with FranceInfo

She offered tips to road users on how to be safe in the dark. She said: “It’s crucial to be visible. The most effective way to do this is with reflective strips.”

She explained that this period of the year, just after clocks go back and into deeper winter, is “much more accident-prone”. She said: “This is a time when the sharing of the streets and the roads takes on a new dimension because we have to deal with [increased hours of] night.

“For pedestrians, between October and January, 43% of pedestrian deaths are concentrated there. 60% of fatal accidents involving scooter users take place at night.”

More than half (58%) of people in France feel more “in danger” at this time of year on the roads, she said.

She also advised: “When you are a pedestrian, a scooter driver or a cyclist, you have to make yourself visible. 

“If you are just wearing your coat, you can be seen from 30 metres by a motorist. If you have retro-reflective elements, you are visible at 150 metres. 

“Remember that at 50 km/h, a car on dry ground takes more than 30 metres to stop. So it is very important to be visible.”

Ms Lavaud added that the Prévention Routière association has a label called "Villes et villages prudents" (Safe Cities and Villages) which recognises all the municipalities that have implemented safety measures to aid in road risk prevention. 

This is especially important given many cities’ attempts to cut power usage by reducing streetlamps.

She said: “We met to find out how we could combine energy saving and risk prevention for road users. It turns out that it is obvious to add reflective elements to all obstacles, such as chicanes and even flower pots, so that if the public lighting is cut, they can be seen.”

The EU and EU countries had, before the pandemic, voted to stop daylight savings changes by now. However, the Covid crisis interrupted proceedings and the plans are currently on hold.

Read more: Why France uses daylight saving time and why it almost ended in 2021

Currently, the clocks change twice a year: ‘forward’ for spring and summertime in March, and ‘back’ for winter in October.

Related articles 

Why does France still change the clocks despite EU vote against it?
Europe votes to end daylight savings clock changes
Why France uses daylight saving time and why it almost ended this year 

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