Home Your Visibility and Safety in the Dark Your Visibility and Safety in the Dark

Your Visibility and Safety In the Dark PDF Print E-mail
Being a pedestrian on a road is dangerous when it is dark,
as dangerous in a dim light at dawn and dusk, or in the rain,
and a cloudy weather can make it dangerous as well.

Below illustrates the significant difference in distances a pedestrian is visible with and without a safety reflector for the motorists in the dark.


A driver using full beam lights can see a pedestrian with a reflector in the dark at a distance of 300 meters and even more, but without a reflector the distance is a maximum of 100 meters.

With dimmed lights a pedestrian with a reflector is seen in the dark at a distance up to 150 meters, but now without a reflector the distance is a maximum of 40 meters only.

These situations can change to even shorter distances depending of the driving conditions; rain, fog and being blinded by the on coming traffic, all reduce the driver’s ability to see.


Street lights in urban areas are often weak in dusk, dawn and dark, the city lights do not guarantee your safety, even if you wear bright colours or completely white.

Why be Visible In the Dark?

A driver travelling at 50 km/h needs 28 meters to stop the car. When dark clothed pedestrian without a reflector crossing the street is seen from less than 17 meters distance, there’s no time left for the driver to avoid an accident. When the speed of a car is 100 km/h the distance is 83 meters until the car stop, not even wearing white is enough to secure the pedestrian from being hit by a car.

? All facts and figures from safety experts in industry and governments, prove you are safer when you are more visible in the dark - and reflectors increase your visibility instantly!

In the Scandinavian countries, where reflectors have been used by all members of the population since the early 60's, the night time pedestrian accident rate is 50% less than in the United States, where over 60% of pedestrian accidents and deaths occur in the dark says the National Safety Council, USA.

There is a time gap between seeing and reacting!

Below illustrates the little distance and time a driver has to react.
braking distances in the dark

When the speed is 60 km/h, the car moves forward 17 meters in a second, the driver using dimmed lights may notice a pedestrian without a reflector, from a maximum distance of 40 meters being only 2,3 seconds away, at that moment the driver react and it would take at least 3 seconds and a total 37 meters distance to stop the car in good weather conditions.

A car travelling 80 km/h, the car moves forward 22 meters in a second. The driver using dimmed lights may notice a pedestrian without a reflector, again from a maximum distance of 40 meters, but now with this speed the pedestrian is just 1,8 seconds away, it would take at least 4 seconds more and total a 58 meters distance to stop the car, 18 meters after the spot where the pedestrian without a reflector was crossing the road.

RflctrCpl6_LTtxtThe risk of being hit by a car in the dark is eight times lower with a safety reflector
Using a reflector gives the driver 5 seconds more time to act! While this is not a lot of time in lifetime, a few seconds makes a big difference and five seconds can be life saving.

When a road or street is wet the time and distance to stop the car is even longer. Also on coming traffic reduce driver’s ability to see and the time to react is extended as well.

Not only seeing far in traffic, but also being visible from far away distance is important, especially when the speed increase, the more time and longer distance the driver need to stop the car. 

? Reflectors are the only proven method of making pedestrians and cyclists visible at distances sufficient for the motorist to slow down or to stop.

? Drivers who have struck a pedestrian in night time traffic almost all have not been given any chance to avoid the accident (according to the Indiana State Police Reports –USA), because they have not seen the pedestrian at all on the dark road or not soon enough.

? As much as half of all road accident fatalities involving pedestrians could be avoided if reflectors were used. – Finnish Road Accident Investigation Team

? Night time pedestrian accidents and deaths are the most preventable tragedies.

Wearing white is not enough

Studies have proven that wearing bright colours makes you more visible to the motorists only by daylight and in the dark all the other colours than white are visible for the motorists at most at 40 meters, but even being visible at 55 meters by wearing white clothes is not safe enough when a car is travelling with a speed of 80 km/h or faster.
Colours visible in the dark

The American Cornell University Cooperative Extension Program has published an alarming report on "Action Wear: Clothing for Fitness". Their report states that pedestrians walking along a road wearing dark clothing at night are first seen approximately 17 meters away, giving a driver less than one second reaction time and no chance to act!

Cornell University confirm a reflectorized pedestrian was first seen from
a safe distance of 152 meters or even from further.

? A person dressed completely in black wearing a thumb sized reflector
is detected at longer distances than a person dressed completely in white
– Federal Highway Administration, USA.



? Be aware that some brands of reflectors may look the same but would not pass the requirement for reflectivity and give a false sense of safety to  anyone who uses them.


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