Night Time Safety

Night Time Safety Is it really all that dangerous to bike/walk/run at night? Yes. Just Yes. For the first time in 20 years, pedestrian fatalities and injuries are on the increase. Pedestrians are up to seven times more likely to be involved in a fatal collision at night as opposed to in the day. More than 70% of cyclist v. vehicle collisions and fatalities happen at night. 75% of fatalities occur at night. GHSA Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State, 2017There are many factors to blame:

  • Increased use of smartphones by distracted drivers and pedestrians.
  • Dated road design – cars driving at elevated speeds on roads built for less traffic.
  • Fewer – not more – crosswalks mean pedestrians risk crossing at unsafe points.
  • More people are walking for health benefits and environmental reasons.

The steady increase in distracted drivers is bad news for everyone competing for space on the
road. Drivers are not looking for you. They’re rushing, yelling, texting, giving a pacifier to a cranky toddler in the back seat. You are not even a little on their minds.

So the more time you can give a driver to see you and avoid you, the better. And that’s the whole game. The more heads-up a driver has, the likelier you’ll be seen. Cars always win. It’s just a matter of degree of injury.

  • The chance of being struck and killed as a pedestrian increases 1,100% after dark.
  • National Safety Council
    More than 70% of cyclist vs. vehicle collisions and fatalities happen between 6 and 11pm.
  • In recent years, the number of pedestrian fatalities in the United States has increased 27% from 2007 to 2016, while at the same time, all other traffic deaths decreased by 14 percent. Pedestrians now account for a larger proportion of traffic fatalities than they have in the past 33 years. GHSA Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State, 2017

Why Do I Need Extra Reflective Material?

Stopping a car is a multi-faceted maneuver:

Flash of unrecognizable light shines in the driver’s eyes, brain scouring its hard drive for matching pattern.

Car still at full speed, no matching pattern identified.

Car still at full speed, second flash of unrecognizable light, “WHAT WAS THAT? DID YOU SEE THAT?” is heard in the car, to no one in particular.

Brain scanning, car still at full speed.

Runner approaching car, presuming she’s been seen and will be avoided because she’s got a silver reflective piping on her jacket, plus some on her shoes. She’s feeling confident, she runs on toward the car.

It’s enough reflective to be noticed, but not enough and not in the right places on her body for the driver to recognize her as a person with enough time to take evasive action.

Pedestrians consistently overestimate their own visibility. In one study: On average, pedestrians overrated their visibility by 193’ or over two tennis courts. This gives pedestrians a false sense of security, assurance that they’re being seen when they are not. It occurs, in part, because the pedestrian’s environment is darker than the driver’s field of vision—so the pedestrian’s eyes are better adjusted to the darkness and thus overconfidence ensues.

On dry pavement it takes a car traveling 30mph 75’ to stop. A wet surface pushes stopping distance to 125’. A wet surface and a driver eating a bagel while on the phone adds…well, a lot. Increasing your visibility during dark and low-light hours will reduce your risk of being involved in an automobile/pedestrian crash.

Consumer Reports recommends one of the simplest steps you can take to protect yourself when walking, running and biking is to add reflective material to your clothing and gear. Placing reflective strips on your clothes in the outline of a human will increase your chances of being recognized due to a concept called Reflective Biomotion. The quicker you appear as a moving human, the faster the driver can recognize potential danger and take action.

Think 360-degree visibility when applying reflective strips so that you will be seen by drivers on all 4 sides of your body.