Walking at Night? Wear Something Bright

By Milton Charlton

In 2017 there were about 1600 pedestrian collisions and 42 deaths in Toronto. I found that it is quite easy to increase those numbers. It was a dark, snowy early evening and I had to drive to get a prescription. The road was slippery and narrowed by snow banks. My headlights were on. Suddenly, I saw the whites of the eyes of two pedestrians walking directly toward me. They were dressed in black and virtually invisible. Fortunately, I was able to swerve to avoid the pedestrians because I drive cautiously, my car had winter tires and there was no opposing traffic. This incident could have been avoided if the pedestrians had used the sidewalk but it was uncleaned. If the pedestrians had thought to wave a white handkerchief or anything white, I probably would have seen them much sooner. When walking, never assume a driver can see you especially not at night. Take something bright to wave so you can be seen. Visibility is not about colour but about reflectivity. Even a red coat at night may have little visibility because it reflects too little light. Keep in mind that the driver about to run you down may be blinded by lights from opposing traffic or visibility may be compromised by a dirty windshield. A flashlight is an excellent companion. Also, there are various highly reflective clothing accessories that cost little but may save your life.