Why reflective wear?
At one point or another, we are all pedestrians and as such have a stake in how safe our travels on the road are likely to be. Safety experts are looking at various approaches to improve the safety of pedestrians and to decrease the thousands of fatalities and injuries that occur to pedestrians in the U.S. each year.
Use of Retro Reflective Wear
One of these approaches is to increase people’s use of reflective wear. Most pedestrian fatalities and injuries occur during dusk and night time hours. Drivers have less time to react during these times because they often do not see the pedestrian in the roadway until it is too late. Pedestrians who wear these retro reflective products increase the distance at which they are first seen by drivers and thus afford the driver more time to take avoidance measures. Numerous manufacturers and distributors are in the business of marketing retro reflective clothing, accessories, patches, stickers and constantly looking for ways to broaden their appeal..
Of all road users, the pedestrian lays claim to being the most vulnerable. Within that group the child pedestrian faces considerable risk. In 1998, children 15 years and younger represented 23% of the total population and accounted for 30% of all nonfatal pedestrian injuries and 11% of all pedestrian fatalities.
Children are at risk due to a variety of developmental limitations. Children have difficulties judging the speed of cars and expect that cars can stop as easily as they can. Children are short in stature and thus drivers don’t see them as easily as taller adults. Children on the other hand often believe that if they can see the cars, the drivers can see them. Children have active imaginations and short attention spans. When engaged in play they can forget that entering the roadway or intersection requires their undivided attention. Children can be impulsive and act without thought. Running into the street, children can be caught in the path of an unsuspecting driver. Some children, ignorant of good pedestrian practice think that the safest way to cross the street is to put their heads down and run as fast as they can. Walk signals can be incomprehensible or confusing to young children. At intersections, they are unaware of the hazards of not watching for turning vehicles.
The role of parents, schools and community in child pedestrian safety
When children are playing near streets, parents have an obligation to supervise them. Parents also need to teach their children good pedestrian safety behaviors. Schools can complement the parents instruction by including pedestrian safety instruction in their curriculum. The community also has a part to play in keeping children safe on the streets. Groups can use a variety of criteria to determine if the community is pedestrian friendly.