Pedestrian Visibility at Night

Pedestrian at NightI read an article recently about conspicuity for police officers working on the highway. It suggested that the reflective vests and jackets that we use to stand out and be identified by drivers at night were not very effective. A driver had to approach closely when using low beam headlights to see a reflection, and the reflections that were seen did not immediately suggest that what the driver was looking at was a pedestrian.

Tests in a driving simulator produced an even more surprising result. 60% of drivers who were warned that a pedestrian would appear during the simulation failed to see them on the roadway in time to avoid colliding with them. Often drivers report that the first indication that they had of a pedestrian being present on the highway is when they heard the sound of the collision with them.

Looking at the view from the pedestrian's perspective, researchers found that pedestrians all felt that they were more visible to drivers than they actually were.

The bottom line? If you are a pedestrian on the highway at night, wear something light colored with reflective striping down the arms and across the torso. Use the sidewalk, or if a sidewalk is not present, stay as far to the left of the roadway as possible. Never cross the highway unless you can clear the travelled portion well before the approching vehicle nears you. Better still, wait until the driver sees you and has stopped.

Walk to stay alive. Regardless of being right or wrong in terms of right of way, the pedestrian is always the loser in a collision.

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