Commentary

September 14, 2012

Why we wear reflective belts

Approximately 4000 pedestrians are killed in the United States every year and half of those are during the hours of darkness.

Also, almost 50 percent of pedestrian fatalities in the U.S. occur between the hours of 6 p.m. and midnight according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Studies show a motorist driving 55 mph will not see a pedestrian in dark clothing until he/she is 55 feet away, and a vehicle traveling at that speed (Rosamond Blvd. after the museum for example) needs 260 feet to stop safely.

AFI 91-207, paragraph 3.5.2 covers jogging/running during hours of darkness: “When jogging or running on roadways at night or in inclement weather (e.g., fog, rain, sleet or snow, etc.) personnel will wear clothing containing retro-reflective properties or retro-reflective accessories visible from the front and back.”

There are many safety items specifically designed for joggers and bikers to help them be compliant with the intent of the AFI. Also, it is important to note that this instruction applies to all persons (military or civilian) at any time on an Air Force installation.

Our days are beginning to get shorter so this safety consideration is becoming increasingly more important. Two months ago, exercising at 6 a.m. would have been light outside, but as of today it’s much darker. Each morning and evening, we are seeing (or should we say having a hard time seeing) joggers and cyclist wearing dark clothing with minimal (if any) retro-reflective clothing or devices as prescribed by AFI 91-207.

According to Dr. Paul Olsen (Forensic Aspects of Driver Perception), dark clothing on a pedestrian makes them harder to see at five percent of the light reaching them. Most clothing is a diffuse reflector, which is characterized by a rough texture that reflects light more or less equally in many directions. This visibility issue becomes even more complicated when the pedestrian is in an area of low contrast or silhouetted against a low-contrast-dark object or obstruction.

Most drivers are not looking out for joggers or cyclists, so take precautions if you exercise in periods of low visibility. Increase your chances of being seen by wearing clothing that makes you more visible. Please continue to help us keep Edwards a safe place to live and work.

 




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