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(Gripe) Low-visibility Pedestrians

In my area of the country (NYC suburbs), it is fashionable to wear dark colors at night, like black or charcoal grey. It is also fashionable to walk across busy streets and highways in places other than at a stoplight. They don’t seem to realize or maybe they just don’t care that I can’t see them unless there’s another car’s headlights directly behind them.

There have been numerous occasions when I suddenly became aware that one of these ninja-like pedestrians was standing in the middle of the street between busy lanes of traffic or even running across the street in front of me, only a few feet away.

What has most recently given me nightmares is an experience I had two weeks ago. I was driving on a narrow, unlit, shoulder-less two-lane suburban (“country”) highway, when I suddenly noticed a pedestrian, dressed in black, walking down the road in the middle of my lane. I slammed on my brakes, and in the couple of years it took to skid to a halt, I was convinced I was going to hit him and probably kill him. (BTW, this is the point where I got rear-ended – see my question about body work.) It didn’t help that the guy was dark-skinned and dark-haired, so his head was even less visible than the rest of him.

I’ve finally stopped waking up in the middle of the night thinking about it, but still, whenever I drive at night, I keep thinking I see pedestrians in front of me, just beyond the limits of my vision. Sometimes it’s just my imagination, but sometimes it’s not, and when I actually see someone, even on the sidewalk, I get a jolt.

I’ve known for years how hard it is for drivers to see pedestrians, so I’ve made a point of only buying light- and bright-colored fall and winter jackets, usually yellow. And when I buy jackets or ponchos or raincoats for my kids, I also insist on yellow, although a lot of retailers don’t sell anything but dark colors. But I seem to be the only one in my area that does this.

Can Tom and Ray add a campaign for pedestrians to wear high-visibility clothing to their list of worthy causes?

I ride my bicycle to work quite often, and have a vibrant glow shirt, yes I hear your complaint. I have had to video sites for plan commission, and people will pull up the hoodie so as not to be caught on video. Sure it would be a wonderful world if pedestrians and cyclists could be easily seen, I hope it happens.

I’ve yet to see any evidnece that T&R visit here, but I support your cause. When I was a younger man and active, I always wore high-vis colors with high reflectivity stripes at night. When riding I always used lights (the blinking LED lights came out during those years, and they’re great) and when walking I always carried a flashlight.

Unfortunately, black is “in”. How you get teenagers, who care more about fashion than safety, to wear visable cothing is a mystery yet to be solved.

I call this kind of behavior “natural selection in fast-forward”.

On another forum I go to, a poster made a thread saying he actually hit someone in broad daylight, even though he swerved to avoid the guy while slamming on his brakes, he hit him doing about 20~25mph and the guy rolled over top the car and broke his side mirror. He went on to say that the pedestrian was very belligerent with him and when the cop got there, he got up in the cop’s face about how he got “ran over”. The poster told the cop what happened and showed him the skid marks from where he slammed on the brakes. The cop then gives the pedestrian a ticket for jaywalking and tells the poster that he could press charges against the pedestrian to get the mirror fixed as well. The poster didn’t get anything from the ordeal except a broken side mirror on his car.
I think the cop probably got mad from the pedestrian getting up in his face about the deal and wanted to shut him up big time, but he wasn’t unruly enough to taze him

They don’t care about you or anyone else. They probably don’t care about themselves, either. You can’t change them and I don’t believe that any campaign will stop them from behaving foolishly. There is no medicine for stupidity. I applaud your efforts to avoid the fools. When I was in college, I had a friend with a weird antidote for this activity. When a pedestrian (young) would cross the street in front of him and slow down as he approached, my friend gunned the engine and acted like he was going to hit them. The slow-poke moved quickly to avoid being smeared on the pavement. I asked him if he would have hit them, and he said of course. I never did that and I don’t advocate reviving the practice.

Even if T&R did say something, I don’t think these folks are regular NPR listeners. The ones I’ve noticed are the guys in the ridiculous dark hooded sweat shirts and those wearing burkas. Dark skin makes it all the worse. With a hood up, you know they don’t have any periferal vision and being covered head to foot with dark brown or blue makes them invisible. You just have to be careful, plus I’ve got to say the HID headlights make a big difference.

Find the person who decides what is in and replace him. >:^)

I walk to the entrances of stores at night dressed in dark blue but I try not to walk in front of cars. My shoes reflect well but I have to be careful too. I have these great lime green work gloves with reflective tape on them for Winter when it’s dark really early but they look dumb. I have worn them and they get attention.

I recommend the use of Fog Lights in order to be able to see these stealth pedestrians more clearly.

(This should get an interesting response from a new, combative forum member!)

You can’t teach anyone something they don’t want to know.
You can’t change the behavior of someone who already knows the facts and CHOOSES to act otherwise.

–AND another vote for using clear weather fog lights —

Around here everyone purposely out for a walk wears visible colors and many cyclists wear reflective vests.

But many of ‘those’ people are dressing in thier ‘cool’ colors and just don’t give a rat’s tail. Heaven forbid they get caught wearing the ‘‘wrong’’ color !
AND ( stated by others here ) will try to blame you.
So then, since they know this already and choose to take that risk, so be it for them, accept the consequences.