Don’t just dress to impress — dress to be seen when walking at night

When we use our clothing to say "Look at me!" are we really thinking about how we will appear to other road users when we are pedestrians after dark? The right choice of dress prior to your next walk in the dark could be critical!

Few people leave their homes without paying some attention to how they are dressed.

When we use our clothing to say “Look at me!” are we really thinking about how we will appear to other road users when we are pedestrians after dark? The right choice of dress prior to your next walk in the dark could be critical!

About two-thirds of pedestrian fatalities occur at night. This is probably because research indicates that pedestrians can be dangerously inconspicuous to drivers after dark.

A pedestrian in dark clothing at night will not be seen in time to stop if the driver is using low-beam headlights and travelling faster than 60 km/h.

We tend to underestimate that we are difficult to see in the dark. Visual recognition ability degrades rapidly with falling light levels and drivers need it to find and identify pedestrians.

Visual guidance abilities such as walking through a darkened room remain effective, lulling us into thinking that we are more visible than we really are. Critically, we may overestimate by as much as triple the safe distance.

How do you increase your chances of being seen and be identified as a pedestrian?

A reflective vest is better than dark clothing, but reflective material positioned at the major joints of the body (ankles, knees, waist, shoulders, elbows and wrists) is even better. This will show “biological motion” and allow the driver to decide “human” far more quickly.

For more information on this topic, visit www.drivesmartbc.ca. Questions or comments are welcome by e-mail to comments@drivesmartbc.ca. Tim Schewe is a retired RCMP constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. His column appears Friday.

 

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