DARK HOURS EXERCISE REQUIRES ATTENTION TO SAFETY; NOVEMBER SAFETY MESSAGE (UPDATE from 2018) The days have more dark hours now that we are into the heart of fall headed toward winter, regardless of whether time is kep by standard or daylight-saving method. When people living in most areas of the USA were instructed to ‘fall backward’ last weekend it meant we would be experiencing more darkness in the late afternoon and evening than in morning time.
T’is the season for increased auto accidents, says a San Francisco Injury Lawyer blog post from 2015!
Going forward the dark portions of the days will lengthen until the middle-end of December. Running/walking/cycling outside on streets, sidewalks, and paths made poorly visible by cold weather precipitation or narrower by fallen leaves or snow will require taking extra care and paying closer attention to safety. Vehicles can’t see us all that well and we also cannot easily see our way. Outdoor exercisers can make themselves more visible, make their way more visible, or do both for protection from harm.
Wearing clothes, shoes, or accessories decorated with reflective material is one way to increase the visibility of our persons. Head lamps and wearable lights can do this too. Some devices perform double duty and illuminate the paths we follow.
A YouTube video titled “No White At Night Challenge”, by FlashBrite Reflective Products shows how wearing white to be visible isn’t always an effective strategy. Seven people are moving forward toward the camera and can be heard but only several wearing reflective strip material can be seen at first. Those wearing white aren't visualized until they move much, much closer. The conditions in this film are unusually dark; most of us would not exercise in a pitch-black area that doesn’t allow seeing where we are going! The demonstration is extreme but makes the point.
Considering the terrible view I get through a cold wet automobile windshield at night, HIGHER visibility is essential for runners, walkers, and cyclists this time of year. Even the act of crossing well-lighted streets can be dangerous, especially wearing dark clothing. Experience has shown me that when driving in the city, it is difficult to see pedestrians, often fashionably attired in black, who dart into the street between parked cars. It stands to reason that if we choose to share the roadway with autos while exercising it is in our best interest to take steps to be seen.
My warning is that tiny strips and dots of reflective material applied or sewn onto shoes, sleeves, hats, and pant legs are probably NOT going to help all that much in making you more visible. There won’t be sufficient time for a vehicle’s driver to see you and avoid a collision. The positioning of this material may render it visible only from the front as you move forward (on wrists, sleeves, hats, headlights) or from the rear (heel, pant cuffs, jacket backs). The ‘high viz’ material may be so small as to appear to be bits of light reflected off nearby objects. Be wary of apparel that has a few dots or dashes of the material on it but claims to be a safety purchase.
If you wish to be protected, employ multiple means and be inventive. An intense headlight that shows the way in the dark can be set on strobe/ flash and, when carried in the hand, can be shone in any direction to warn of your approach. Heel flashers can be clipped to the front of a jacket or the back of a hat rather than worn on the shoe. If relying on reflective clothing, make sure the materials cover a large enough surface area that the shine can be seen to bounce with your motion. A bright spot that is bigger and moving will more readily catch the attention of a driver than a small glimmer that seems to be stationary.
I walk in very quiet streets in the early morning when drivers are rushing to get to work and not expecting other cars, let alone people, to be on the streets with them. Even in low traffic areas precautions are necessary. You’ll want experiment to find what fits your needs, starting with items within your budget.
Nathan Sports has a variety of products that can help in this regard. Other reflective vest products are available that vary in price. Earned Runs reviewed the Noxgear Tracer 360 visibility vest, a device with colored light tubing that I now use on darkest runs near streets. I wearheel flashers on less dangerous runs and carry a headlamp in my hand to light the way.
While supplies last, Earned Runs will mail a complimentary sample of 3M Scotchlite Reflective Material reflective strips to those who request a bib set. The strips alone aren't enough protection, but will demonstrate how the material can make non-reflective apparel visible.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
NO WHITE AT NIGHT CHALLENGE
By Flashbrite Reflective Products Shows runners wearing 3M Scotchlite reflective materials
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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