Night Visibility: Lights For Walking Safety

NiteBeams LED Double Vison Hat. Wendy Bumgardner © 2013

In addition to reflective gear, lights or strobes can make you visible, especially to vehicles on side streets (when headlights may not be illuminating you).

Strobes: Small flashing lights that clip on a belt provide lightweight visibility. Look for them in cycling shops or running stores.

Flashlight: So YOU can see the trail, a flashlight is a good idea for areas that are unlit (or where the streetlights have gone out unexpectedly).

Choose one that is lightweight but powerful.

Headlamp: If you use any arm motion, you may well prefer a headlamp to a flashlight. I prefer the Petzl Tactikka LED headlamp. It is lightweight, the batteries last a long time and the bulbs are nearly unbreakable.

LED Hats: As LED lights became smaller and brighter, some smart folks started putting them in the hat so you didn't need a headlamp, or making clip-on LED lights to add to any hat. I had trouble with some designs because you can't adjust the angle of the beam. When I walked with my head up and eyes forward, the beam shot uselessly out to the horizon. Look for a hat that will put the spotlight where you need it. I like the Panther Vision PowerCap -- it's also good for reading in bed or on an airplane! But the NiteBeams LED Double Vision Running Hat or Visor also has red flashers in back and is made of sporty fabric.

Lighted/reflective sash: I got a couple of these at the Portland-to-Coast Walk over the years.

They are great - lighted front and back with a glowing strip, plus they are reflective.

Glowsticks: They're not just for Halloween! Phosphorescent glow stick can be carried, or you can get glowhoops to wear as a necklace. We see quite a few of these during the Portland-to-Coast Walk. Certainly will make the neighbors take note at night!

Shop for them in the toy department or stock up at Halloween - but be warned that they have an expiration date so they can't be stockpiled. Putting them in the freezer once lit may keep them going for several uses.

Walk Defensively!
You need to remember that you are an unexpected object at night.
Crosswalks and driveways: Be sure the driver is aware of your presence by making eye contact before crossing in front of them, especially if they appear ready to turn right on a red light.
Walking in the road: This may be the time of year to use sidewalks if you have them! Be sure to walk on the left side facing traffic (except you folks with British traffic arrangements!) so you can see oncoming vehicles. You have the advantage of seeing the headlights of approaching cars, stay wary and ready to move off the road.. If you carry a light, put it on the side that is closest to traffic.

Or Else!
US federal data shows that 5,157 pedestrians were killed on the nation’s streets in 1996. They found that most fatalities - 69 percent - occur on neighborhood streets.

This is a significant public health and safety problem that is killing more Americans than headline-grabbing causes of death such as random gun violence, or the e-coli bacteria.

Don't become a statistic, reflect on it and light up for safety!

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