With the approach of fall and winter upon us, it’s important to recognize the implications the season change will have on road conditions—specifically for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Fall weather means cool, crisp air and pops of color along the road as the leaves change, but it also means an earlier onset of darkness and, often, wetter road conditions. According to the National Safety Council, your chances of being hit and killed as a pedestrian increase by 1,100 percent at night. Don’t ever assume that a driver can see you—studies have shown that pedestrians wearing dark clothing are first visible to drivers at 55 feet away, yet a car traveling 25 mph requires 155 to stop.
In fact, it’s illegal to travel by foot, whether you’re exercising or just walking from point A to point B, after sunset without making yourself visible to vehicles from a minimum of 500 feet. According to the Travel With Care survey that was distributed this summer, only 10 percent of respondents were aware of this law. Though 500 feet may seem excessive, a car traveling 55 miles per hour requires 500 feet to come to a complete stop once the driver applies the brake.
In order to be seen, Auburn City Code states that walkers and joggers wear reflective clothing or attachments between the waist and shoulders on both their front and back. Bicyclists must have an operating headlight on the front of their helmet, as well as red reflectors on the front and rear spokes of both wheels and pedals of their bicycle. An additional red reflector is required on the rear by Alabama State Law.
Keep in mind that you should always be aware of your surroundings, especially after dark, to avoid being struck by a vehicle. Travel With Care advises you to refrain from texting, talking on the phone or using headphones when out and about at night.
If nighttime is the best time for you to exercise, you don’t have to change up your schedule, just your attire! Be informed, not entitled, and take all safety precautions necessary to ensure your visibility.