When it comes to traffic safety, knowledge can save lives and prevent the pain and injury caused by accidents. The majority of motorist/pedestrian/cyclist accidents occur in the evening hours between 6 p.m. and 12 a.m., with a greater incidence on weekends. We share ten key tips on how to stay aware, visible, and safe on the road when the sun goes down.
1. First and Foremost, Be Aware of Visibility Issues
Understand that there are others on the road that may not be visible to you – and conversely, that others may not be able to see you. Take steps to become more visible at night, and encourage others to do the same.
2. Use Reflective Gear or Lights to Be Seen
If walking or biking at night, wear white or light colors, use appropriate lighting on your bike, and always wear highly-reflective gear which provides 360 visibility, including products made from 3M Scotchlite and Reflexite (with visibility up to 1,500 feet). Use caution with reflective products that do not state their reflective distance.
3. Walk and Bike in Well-Lit Areas
Learn which roads and paths are adequately lit for safe nighttime walking and cycling, and plan your route accordingly.
4. Use Extra Caution in Crosswalks
Motorists often have difficulty seeing someone in a crosswalk at night. Motorists should not presume the crosswalk is empty, cyclists should dismount and cross by foot and pedestrians should not presume the driver can see them in the crosswalk with-in a safe stopping distance, especially if dressed in dark colours. Accidents are most frequent during vehicle right turns.
5. Share the Road, and Know Your Place on It
Roads, sidewalks, and bike paths exist for a good reason – be sure you are where you belong. A pedestrian or cyclist who darts into the street without regard to safety laws can cause a serious accident.
6. Be Wary of Common Distractions
Shuffling through songs on an iPod, texting a friend, and even talking on a cell phone can diminish your capacity to react to threatening traffic situations. Save the high-tech for full stops.
7. Know and Follow Traffic Laws
Whether travelling by car, by bike, or on foot, know the rules of the road – particularly right-of-way laws. Cyclists should use appropriate signals and lanes, and pedestrians should only cross at official crosswalks.
8. Visually Scan the Road for Vehicles and Pedestrians
Keep alert at night by visually scanning your surroundings. Pedestrians should stop at the curb to view the road, and cyclists should look over their shoulder to see if the road is clear when turning. It’s important for motorists to check their blind spot when backing up or changing lanes.
9. Use Available Safety Gear
Take advantage of all of the safety gear available to you. Seatbelts, good breaks, and working windshield wipers are crucial for motorists. (It’s hard to see someone at night through a smear.) If on a bike or motorcycle, wear a helmet. Doing so is 88% effective in preventing serious brain injury.
10. Take Part in Safety Legislation
Safety laws save lives. Countries that have more stringent rules typically have fewer accidents. Contact your legislators to encourage real change in your community.
When accidents occur, both the person behind the wheel and the person hit is changed forever. Friends and family members also share the pain. Most of this suffering is preventable, and the first step is awareness. Once you become aware of safety issues, you will start to see how you can be part of the solution.
The next step is to speak up about it – to your friends, family, and lawmakers who can make positive changes in your community and beyond.
Be safe. Be seen.