It is with great sadness when officers report to families about an accident. At the meeting they describe how their family member was discovered alongside a roadway, with life threatening injuries, or worse. Naturally, “why” questions come immediately to mind; for many I have both an answer and solution to avoid such injuries.
First of all, it’s safe to say that motorists do NOT want to collide with, let alone kill, pedestrians or animals. Such a collision would inevitably cost a driver time, mental strife, inconvenience and money. So they attempt avoiding them, if they can. Yet every veteran driver can admit they’ve occasionally been surprised, especially at night, by a pedestrian, bicyclist or animal. Often it was only luck that spared them, but it doesn’t need to be that way. Advance preparation by pedestrians can pay off with safety improvement.
It seems obvious that any living thing on or near a roadway is at risk for their life. This reality needs to be better understood and appreciated. Many naively believe drivers will see and avoid them; this can be a painful assumption.
Fortunately, in recent years improved headlights and other vehicle technologies have made night driving safer, For more improvement I suggest pedestrians need to also be proactive for their safety. Too often they choose ordinary clothing that is dark, and does nothing to improve their detectability. They are simply too inconspicuous for good health.
Most pedestrians, and all wild animals, do nothing to help drivers see them. Fortunately, this can be accomplished both easily and inexpensively by wearing / using reflective protection products. When added to the upper body, this makes an incredible safety improvement. Pets too can wear reflective collars or attire.
The benefits are obvious (no pun intended) when every day professional road workers and others wear “retroreflective” garments as mandatory safety clothing. Such requirements have proven life-saving effectiveness. Unfortunately, too many “amateurs” travel dark roads wearing inconspicuous clothing, mistakenly assuming they’ll be seen.
Responsibility for personal conspicuousness is taught in motorcycle and bicycle safety classes, but the message seems not to be getting to the general public, at their peril.
Legislators could mandate the use of reflective materials for human use at night, whenever in, or near, roadways. Such garments are economical and commonly available. Until then, I encourage everyone to wisely, and voluntarily reflectorize themselves to “Be Seen, Not Hurt”.