Nighttime Visibility and Pedestrian/Bicyclist Safety
As winter settles in and days get shorter, nighttime visibility becomes even more important than usual. Of course, it is important for pedestrians and cyclists to be visible year-round during dark conditions, but winter creates an additional challenge of less daylight hours and storms that can impact visibility any time of day. Unfortunately, the number of fatal pedestrian crashes in Connecticut has been on the rise, with 2022 shaping up to be the deadliest year in decades – a trend mirrored in national statistics as well. By the end of November, there were 59 pedestrian fatalities in our state; just two away from the record set in 2020. Eleven pedestrian fatalities occurred in the month of November alone. Additionally, there were two bicyclist fatalities.
Nighttime visibility has become such an important safety issue that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recently included it in their Every Day Counts Round 7 (EDC-7) Innovations. The following excerpt is from the FHWA press release on the EDC Round 7 Innovations:
Nighttime Visibility for Safety: The nighttime crash fatality rate is three times the daytime rate. Enhancing visibility along corridors, intersections, and pedestrian crossings can help reduce fatalities. This initiative promotes traffic control devices and properly designed lighting to improve safety for all users, including pedestrians, cyclists, and people who use public transportation and passenger rail services.
Drivers have an enormous responsibility – operating a vehicle that weighs on average two tons requires attention and care. Add dark roadway conditions or inclement weather and the risk becomes even greater. Pedestrians and bicyclists also have a responsibility to follow the rules of the road and behave in a manner that aligns with driver expectations.
There are some simple measures that everyone can take to protect vulnerable roadway users.
Tips for Drivers
- Avoid distractions.
- Drive the speed limit and slow down near crosswalks and intersections.
- Slow down and use caution in poor weather conditions.
- Keep your vehicle in good operating condition, especially tires and brakes.
- Be extra aware while driving in areas where children or the elderly may be present.
Tips for Bicyclists
- Use the bike lane if one is available.
- If no bike lane exists, ride in the travel lane.
- Communicate your intended actions.
- Wear a reflective article of clothing, including ankle and knee reflectors.
Tips for Pedestrians
- Walk on the sidewalk if one is available.
- If there is no sidewalk, walk facing oncoming traffic.
- Cross at crosswalks if present.
- If there is a pedestrian signal, use it correctly.
- Make eye contact with drivers – do not assume they see you or that they will stop for you.
- Wear a reflective article of clothing.
- Carry a flashlight.
During this busy time of year, let’s all do our part to keep ourselves and others safe on our roadways.
For more information and assistance with local road safety in your community, contact Melissa Evans, Safety Circuit Rider, at email@example.com.