If you are out walking this time of year, I don’t need to tell you that there is much less light on the street. This time of year is critical for those on foot, because there is so much more time when you are walking when it is dark: high school students leaving in the morning are in darkness until the time changes; and anyone else leaving home before 7 am, other students are walking home when it starts to get dark earlier now, and will absolutely be in the dark after the time changes on November 4th.
There are things every road user needs to keep in mind: if you are walking when light is low or it is dark, get reflectors and lights to help drivers see you. Reflectors actually bounce a car’s headlights back to the driver to help them see you, acting like a built-in light. Lights, especially LED lights will help drivers see you at 100 to 300 feet away, for most street driving this is enough distance. Reflectors can be seen at 300 to 700 feet, which is plenty of time to see and stop for you, and they don’t need batteries!
The latest research is telling us that when using reflectors, make sure to place them on body parts that move; arms, legs, ankles and wrists work best because they are moving the most; what we are learning is that a driver may see the light far away, but the brain doesn’t register it is a human without movement that allows you to “see” it is a person…. I think this is fascinating!
The other road users who need to be aware are drivers; watch your speed, understand that “I didn’t see them” is not an excuse that will absolve you from responsibility. I tell drivers all the time that the basis of traffic law is that it is your job to see what is there to be seen!
Another fact that might help you is understanding that your headlights don’t illuminate as far as you need them to. The best headlights illuminate the street 175’ in front of you; at 40 miles per hour you travel 66’ per second and the average reaction time is 2.5 seconds… then you add stopping distance. This should open your eyes wide! By the time your headlights allow you to see someone crossing the street when traveling at 45 mph, it is almost too late to not hit them. If you are not paying attention, the pedestrian dies.
As I write this, pedestrian fatalities in Clark County are down from 2017 numbers, but we aren’t bragging about that because last year was the worst on record; also because this is the deadliest time of year. We want everyone to reach home safely every night, we can all do our part: slow down, pay attention, wear reflectors or lights when walking or biking, be sober and be courteous. My final safety tip is always giving yourself enough time to get where you are going so you don’t push the law or common courtesy; we’ll all be much safer!