Safe walking for older adults: Visibility
This is one of a series of pedestrian safety columns, prepared in conjunction with the Dutchess County Transportation Council and the Dutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Health.
As daytimes become shorter and it gets dark earlier, it becomes more important to think about being visible when we’re out walking, especially in the evening and early morning. In the City of Poughkeepsie, 40% of crashes between vehicles and people walking occur in dark or dusk conditions, according to Dutchess County’s Complete Streets Committee (www.dutchessny.gov/CompleteStreets).
What do you do to be visible when you’re walking outside? Here are some tips:
• Wear bright colors. White is most visible, especially at night. Bright yellow or orange are also good. A bright shirt or jacket, hat or cap, pants and sneakers all help you be more visible.
• Carry a flashlight. The light will help you see curbs and other obstacles. It can also help drivers see you, because the light moves as you walk.
• Wear clothes with reflective material. Many jackets and sneakers have reflective strips that make you more visible. You can also find reflective tape or stickers and add them to your jacket or pant legs. Reflective material works best when it’s on a part of your body that moves as you walk — your arms or legs. That way, a driver is more likely to see it.
While visibility is especially important at dawn, dusk and evening hours, it’s good practice to follow these tips whenever you walk outside. “See — and be seen” is how our safety campaign describes it. If you’re crossing near a bus, truck or other large vehicle, wait for that vehicle to be well on its way before crossing, until it no longer blocks sight lines.
Use crosswalks and pedestrian push-buttons where available, and cross at intersections if you can, because that’s where drivers are most likely to expect to see you. New York State law gives pedestrians the right of way in all crosswalks and at intersections with marked or unmarked crosswalks — but as a pedestrian, don’t assume a driver knows the law and will yield when they’re supposed to.
If there is a location that needs safety improvements such as better lighting, crossing signals, sidewalks, curb ramps or crosswalks, alert the local officials in your town, village or city.
In the meantime, check out Dutchess County’s “Watch Out For Me” webpage (www.dutchessny.gov/WatchOutForMe) and explore the available resources, including a street safety tips brochure and street safety quiz. New York State’s Pedestrian Safety program (www.ny.gov/pedsafety) has videos, information about laws and other resources — including a short video about visibility.