Whether you walk, drive, or bike, the shorter days of fall and winter mean it’s especially important to see and be seen on the road.
According to recent data from the National Highway Traffic Administration, more pedestrians were hit and killed in the U.S. in 2021 than at any time in the past 40 years. In both urban and rural areas, many motor vehicle crashes involving pedestrians and cyclists occur in the evenings and darker months of the year. Pair that with factors like speed, inattention, driver impairment, poor lighting conditions, and roadways not designed with pedestrian and cyclist safety in mind, and you have a recipe for tragedy.
Night comes earlier now that we turned the clocks back, and we need to adjust our driving and pedestrian habits. Fortunately, there is a lot we can do to keep ourselves and each other safe.
In the winter of 2022, the Watch for Me Program worked with six of the nine Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) units and community partners to launch the Be Bright at Night Reflector Pilot Program. The program's goals were to hand out free reflectors, raise awareness of road safety issues, promote driver, pedestrian, and cyclist safety messaging, and collect data to potentially expand the program statewide.
MRC volunteers were at 22 events and locations across the state handing out free reflectors (while supplies lasted). The units in the pilot program include: Upper Valley MRC, Lamoille Valley MRC (LVMRC), Southwest MRC, Rutland/Addison MRC, MRC of the Northeast Kingdom, and Southeast MRC. Check out what areas of the state are covered by different MRC units.
This is a pilot program. We are currently exploring options to expand the program statewide in 2023. Sign up for updates about this pilot program and future events.
How to use/wear reflectors:
Reflectors should be visible from the front and the back. A reflector should dangle. Drivers notice movement more than a stationary reflection.
Attach reflectors to:
- Dog Leashes
- The more reflectors, the better!
A person wearing reflectors is up to 3x more visible than someone wearing dark clothing.
Check out the following safety tips for communities, drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians:
State and local governments can enact policies that protect community members while traveling, maintain existing sidewalks, add street lighting at the pedestrian level to improve the visibility of people walking and biking; and strategize about infrastructure changes to maximize community benefit.bUnder the state’s Complete Streets policy, municipalities must consider the needs of all roadway users.
Law enforcement can enforce laws to keep people safe as they move through their communities.
Media can cover stories about our transportation system and use language that does not inadvertently assign blame to victims.
When walking, biking, or rolling at night:
Make sure you are visible to drivers by wearing light and bright clothing, or better yet, bring flashlights/bike lights and wear something reflective.
If wearing reflectors, they should be visible from the front and the back. A reflector should dangle. Drivers notice movement more than a stationary reflection.
Cyclists are required by law to use either a flashing or steady red rear light OR a minimum of 20 square inches of reflective material facing to the rear.
Cross streets in well-lit areas with the best view of traffic.
Use sidewalks whenever possible.
- If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic, as far from the roadway as you can.
At the bus stop: cross behind the bus or in the crosswalk.
Watch for cars, bikes, and other vehicles – because they might not be watching for you.
When driving at night:
Drive slowly and carefully to leave yourself enough time to react. A pedestrian hit by a car going 40 mph has an 85% chance of being killed. At 20 mph, the risk is reduced to 5%.
Never drive distracted, drowsy, aggressive, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Come to a complete stop at stop signs and red lights.
Stay alert, always watch for bikes and pedestrians, and share the road.