I recently had an active conversation with an area resident who commented he was worried that someone walking on the side of the roadways in this area is going to get struck by a vehicle and killed unless the pedestrians in question smarten up.
Our long dark nights, many with heavy cloud cover that we experience during the winter months provide no opportunity for a driver to see a person walking alongside the road if they are wearing dark clothes. This is especially true if the person is walking with their back to traffic and wearing a hoodie. As my friend said, “Some old guy like me might run over them.”
I agree, and I am sure many of our readers will as well. I remember one very dark night when the rain was just pouring down. I was driving past the Esso station heading south and saw two white objects hopping along the side of the road. With the darkness, the rain, and the glare off headlights from a line of traffic coming towards me, the only thing I could think this might possibly be was a pair of light coloured rabbits hopping along the soft shoulder beside the road. I received quit a shock when passing by and realized it was a man walking with his back to the traffic totally dressed in black. What I had thought was a pair of small animals hopping along the side of the road, was in fact the light coloured soles of his running shoes showing up every time he took a step. Except for his shoe soles that pedestrian was invisible in those driving conditions and a sitting duck for a driver who might have gotten a little too close to the edge of the blacktop.
If you are walking in traffic at night use your head, wear a light coloured jacket, cap, or better yet carry a flashlight. Walking with your back to the traffic is a recipe for disaster. Not only can you not see what is coming up behind you or where that vehicle is, but you are at a great disadvantage. One of the best light reflectors you have is your own face. Then there is the onslaught of glaringly bright headlights that drivers have to contend with from oncoming traffic after dark. In order for headlights to be effective they must be bright enough for the driver to see clearly at night, and also be bright enough to ensure that other drivers can see you. However, bulbs that are TOO bright can blind oncoming traffic, especially in rain or snow conditions.
Then of course there are the vehicles with glaringly bright lights on high beam, add to that glaring bright running lights and it becomes almost impossible for drivers heading towards these light shows and their ignorant drivers to see safely.
If the opposite lane has a lot of traffic and there’s no divider or lines on the road, and it’s just vehicle after vehicle of bright lights everything reflects off the windshield; then add rain to the mix and everything reflects off the water drops on the glass.
If you are driving a car that sits low to the ground, it is the perfect height for every SUV and truck to shine their lights directly into your mirrors and this provides a double whammy for your eyeballs. Of course if the guy tailgating you would back off a bit so you could see he might find you are able to speed up and keep the traffic moving, rather than slow down because you can’t see a dang thing!
We have all been informed on many occasions that drivers should adjust as road and weather conditions change. Common sense would dictate that we should slow down when conditions deteriorate from weather or time of day.
But then common sense has been missing in action for quite some time now – perhaps he was taken out by glaring lights or a tailgater?
Are we no longer able to think for ourselves and make intelligent decisions to protect ourselves and others while commuting the roadways?
Are we so wrapped up in our own lives, timelines and emotions that we have lost the ability to consider the other guy, to give every driver or pedestrian the best chance they can to arrive safely at their destination, or to consider what we as individuals are doing when driving a vehicle and how it is affecting others on the same roadways?
Take a moment to think about your own driving or walking habits. Then take a moment to consider the impact on your family or loved ones if you cause an accident or worst yet tempt fate to the point of no return.
Stay safe out there!