As reported, to reduce the number of tragic traffic fatalities on poorly illuminated stretches of rural roads, the state Road Traffic Safety Directorate (CSDD), Transport Ministry, State Police and insurance company Ergo have been conducting a public safety awareness campaign – under the slogan “To be seen means to stay alive”.
Along with the need to promote compliance with the new law mandating the wearing of reflective vests by pedestrians walking along poorly-lit roadsides, Latvia’s Good Samaritans Association and the Transportation Insurance office have launched a parallel mission ‘Save dark pedestrians’, which strives to distribute more than 20,000 free reflective vests to low-income residents.
The ZIB*-brand vests are available in men’s, women’s and children’s sizes and designs, offering a more visually-attractive, but no less conspicuous front-to-back reflective luminescence to the pedestrian’s shoulders, torso and hips. The vests do cost considerably more than a basic outfit, on sale for between €30-35 per item.
The price is only slightly higher than the €15-30 fine for not wearing a reflective vest where required.
CSDD board chairman Andris Lukstiņš called the new line of reflective vests a proper rebuttal to those who think that wearing the obligatory outerwear is an unavoidable fashion faux-pas. He reminded the public of the need to make them a daily-use accessory to save lives during the dark season.
“I applaud Latvia’s designers for their socially-responsible initiative in making the ‘dark walkers’ brighter and more attractive. At every raid we hand out about 150 free vests to pedestrians who often claim they’ve forgotten to put them on, or haven’t realized that they are now required by law,” he said.
Inga Priedīte, author of the ZIB* design, recalled the company’s experience developing various reflective gloves and hats before coming up with the new vests.
“Despite objections heard about the use of reflective vests, people are more than happy to wear them every day as long as they are comfortable and look good. Our fall and winter knit-wear lines with reflective elements have been popular for years,” she told LETA.
Provisional statistics for the year show that so far 56 persons have been killed and 771 sustained personal injuries while walking along the side of the road during the dark hours. Therefore the authorities are urging everyone not just to wear the vests themselves, but also to make sure their loved ones, friends, colleagues and clients are doing so, too.