During the dark months of the year in fall and winter, pedestrians on the road become almost invisible without a reflector or other bright item to distinguish them. Children's Clinical University Hospital (BKUS) said that even before snowfall, the number of injuries sustained on the sidewalks tends to double around this time of the year.
BKUS pediatric surgeon Astra Zviedre said: "An electric scooter or cyclist may not notice a pedestrian walking in front of him, because the visibility distance is very short. Let's also take into account the fact that children tend to look at their phones while walking, it also distracts them from the road."
That's why experts invite people living in cities and remote areas alike to equip themselves with reflectors.
The representative of the Road Traffic Safety Directorate (CSDD) Mārtiņš Mālmeisters said: "The reflector is the thing that the driver notices first, and only then the pedestrian." Similarly, a pedestrian will first notice a car with its lights on rather than one without lights.
The State Police stated that, if more and more people acknowledge the need to be visible outside of populated areas, this awareness is not shared in populated areas, even though there are sections of roads where there is no uniform lighting.
Andis Rinkevics, head of the Prevention Management Department of the State Police, said: "Pedestrians think that the speed is lower, a populated area is a safe place, and therefore light-reflecting elements do not need to be used. The harsh statistics are that, in fact, half of serious road traffic accidents in which pedestrians die, happen precisely in populated areas, in those areas where visibility is difficult or there are no street lights at all."
The police noted that drivers will notice people without reflective elements or a flashlight only at the last moment when it may already be too late to avoid a collision.
"Often, these people do not have a practical understanding of how far the driver can see. The reason is quite simple. A large number of pedestrians do not have a driver's license. They have never sat at the wheel of a vehicle. Those persons who themselves have driven transport and encountered situations where at the last moment they have to make quick maneuvers, they know how difficult it is, and taking into account their experience, they use [reflectors] themselves," said Rinkevics.
While many children's clothes are colorful and already have reflective elements built into them, adult clothes usually do not. However, adults also need to think about their own safety.
"Recently, very nice winter hats with reflective elements are available on the market, which can be seen really far away," said the police representative.
It should be reminded that in places that are not evenly lit, road traffic rules require that you should wear a reflectve element of some kind when walking beside a road. Outside of populated areas, you should walk against the direction of traffic. If you unexpectedly find yourself on an unlit stretch of road and you don't have a reflector or a flashlight with you, using a cellphone's light can provide a temporary solution.