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Changing seasons is a time to step up your visibility
To increase your visibility at night, add reflective materials and items, as well as lights (lights are a safety plus!). And, while wearing light-colored or fluorescent clothing is the better option compared to dark clothing, including reflection to your everyday wardrobe is essential to visibility during low-light hours.
There are lots of ways to add shine:
- Wear clothing and accessories with reflective material. It's common to find reflective material on outerwear and accessories such as coats, jackets, scarves, caps, gloves hats and umbrellas. Looks for these items with a high amount of brightness and reflective material.
- Add a reflective vest over your regular coat or jacket. It's easy to throw a reflective vest or sash over your clothing. You can find these items at construction, outdoor, sports and bike stores.
- Slap a reflective band on your arm, leg or ankle. Using reflective slap bands is a really easy way to add reflection to your body. These show 360° movement, which can be seen from all angles and is more likely to attract the attention from drivers. Some bands include lights, which is even better.
- Add reflectors and lights. Add flexible reflectors with Velcro to purses, helmets, laptop cases, shoes, zipper pulls and backpacks. Lights come in all sizes—there are ones specific to bikes and wheelchairs, and smaller ones for strollers, backpacks and purses. The possibilities are endless.
High visibility fashion statements
There's an app for that!
It's easy to transform your smart phone into a beacon of light.
"Dress" yourself and your bike brightly, to make it easier for others to see you.
- Have the right bike lights. By law you must have a light in front and a red reflector in the back, before sunrise and after sunset. But don't stop there, add more than what's required.
- Invest in proper gear. Bright outerwear such as vests and jackets now come in neon colors with reflective materials.
- Get creative. Put reflective stickers or tape on handlebars, wheel spokes, helmets and backpacks. Light yourself up!
Drivers, make awareness your top priority
Drivers need to be especially alert to see pedestrians and cyclists. According to AAA, taking your eyes off the road, even for two seconds, doubles your risk of getting into a crash. Driving requires your full attention.
- Complete all personal tasks before or after getting behind the wheel.
- If you have a passenger, ask for their help to carry out your business that would otherwise distract you from driving safely.
- Keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. It is illegal in Oregon to use a wireless device while driving.
By the numbers
- Oregon Department of Transportation statistics show that in 2013 there were 51 pedestrians killed in motor vehicle crashes in Oregon, a 15% drop from the 60 pedestrians killed in 2012.
- Of the 51 fatalities, 22 pedestrians (43.1%) were not visible. That is, they wore dark clothing or were not visible in the dark with or without lighting.
- Though there was one less fatality in 2013 (22 in '13 versus 23 in '12) this is a 4.1% increase in those pedestrians who were not visible.
- These numbers do not include many close calls that likely happen during Oregon’s dark, rainy winter months. A pedestrian in dark clothing will not be seen by a driver until they are 55 feet away, giving the driver less than one second for reaction time.
- "Be seen. Be safe." continues to be a prominent safety initiative in the Portland metro region related to pedestrian safety when daylight savings time ends. It will get added visibility in 2014-15 with the statewide expansion by Drive Less Save More and ODOT.