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Whether you decide to walk home after an outing with friends or you are hoping to get some fresh air, walking at night can be a good way to get exercise. Many also walk to avoid driving drunk. However, pedestrians face greater risks at night, and it is important to be aware of the dangers that walking after sunset can create.

When the sun goes down, visibility goes with it.

The majority of accidents occur after sunset, and the Governors Highway Safety Association found that about 80% of pedestrian fatalities occur at dawn, dusk or night. Darker conditions are a major contributor to these accidents. Visibility significantly decreases in the dark, and drivers will usually be closer to an object before they see it clearly. Depth perception also becomes limited in the dark, making it difficult for drivers to judge how much stopping distance they need to avoid a pedestrian.

Drinking in the evening puts pedestrians at risk.

Alcohol consumption is a factor in almost half of pedestrian accidents, and driving or walking while drunk can put pedestrians at significant risk. Not only does alcohol make it difficult for people to think clearly, but it can also significantly inhibit reaction times. Drunk drivers cannot see and react to pedestrians as quickly as sober drivers.

Drunk pedestrians, on the other hand, are also at risk. The cognitive effects of alcohol consumption—recklessness and impaired judgment especially—can result in rash decisions like entering crosswalks without checking for traffic or suddenly changing course. They may also be unable to react to vehicles in time to move to safety.

While walking at night is a risky activity, staying aware of your surroundings can help you maintain your safety. Avoid listening to headphones or consuming alcohol before walking so that you can remain alert and see hazards before they put your safety at risk.