Whether you run, walk or bike after dark, one of the best ways to prevent being hit by a car or truck is to increase your visibility by wearing reflective clothing or a safety light. From sunset to sunrise, many drivers have difficulty seeing because of poor lighting, bad weather or diminished night vision, which puts pedestrians, bicyclists and pets sharing the road at great risk. Here are some tips on how you can “be safe and be seen” and protect yourself when walking, biking or jogging at nighttime as well as low-light daytime hours.
1. Face Traffic if Walking…Ride with Traffic if Biking – If your route has sidewalks, use them. If not, be sure to always face the oncoming traffic when walking or running so you can see and react to potential collisions. Bicycles, which are considered “vehicles” in most states, must follow the same rules of the road as cars and should always travel ride with traffic.
2. Dress to Be Noticed – Make it easy for drivers to see you, especially if you are out on the road in the early morning hours when commuters do not expect to encounter people. Dress in light and bright colored clothing that reflects headlights; avoid wearing dark colors like black and navy.
3. Increase Visibility with Reflective Clothing – Studies show that white clothing can only be seen at 275 feet from a vehicle with its headlights on low beams. This means that a driver traveling at 45 mph will require 675 feet to detect a person walking or biking on the road and perform (hopefully!) a successful evasive maneuver. So, in addition to dressing in light colored clothing, you should also wear reflective material on your shoes or body to increase your visibility to motorists.
Many of today’s athletic shoes and clothing come decorated with strips of reflective fluorescent material. Or, you can buy inexpensive reflective bands to wear around your arms or legs. These bands are great for bikers because they also keep pants from getting caught in the chain. For additional protection, get reflective bands with flashing LED safety lights or a reflective safety vest with flashing LED lights. Some of these vests have lights on both sides and are visible from up to 2,500 feet away.
4. Wear a Safety Light in Low Light or Darkness – Carrying a flashlight is one way to increase visibility, but wearing a super bright, flashing LED safety light is an even better way to help drivers see you on the road, especially in the winter months when the sun is low in the sky and the daylight hours are limited. Strap one of these lights onto your child’s backpack or bicycle to alert drivers that they are approaching. Some safety lights, like the Marpac Foxfire 2, can be seen by motorists up to a half-mile away!
5. Walk and Ride Defensively – Stay alert as you walk, jog or bike and follow the rules of the road. At the same time, recognize that you may be an unexpected obstacle to many drivers and be prepared to move or jump out of the way if a vehicle is coming too close. Leave potential distractions home, such as music players, cell phones and smart phones.
6. Protect Pets with a Pet Safety Light – There are special safety lights for dogs, like the SportDOG and Puplight, that slide or clip onto your pet’s collar and make both of you more visible in the dark. An illuminated dog collar with LED lights is another way to call attention to your pet at nighttime.
The bottom line for staying safe on the road after dark is to use common sense, obey traffic laws and dress to “be seen and be safe” by wearing clothing and accessories that increase your visibility, like a safety light and reflective materials.