To see or not to be seen: The keys to nighttime survival for pedestrians and drivers

A person stands on a curb at a crosswalk while a vehicle approaches. It’s dark and difficult to see. The pedestrian crosses the street, believing the driver will stop…

“Making that assumption may possibly cost you your life,” said Senior Master Sgt. Steven M. Benoit, 435th Air Base Wing Safety superintendent. “The problem of seeing and being seen is only one of the many dangers facing drivers and pedestrians during the evening hours.”

During this time of year, as daylight hours shorten, safety for pedestrians and drivers becomes a big concern since many fatal traffic accidents occur when it’s dark, said Sergeant Benoit.
“Whether you are operating a vehicle or walking the streets at day or night, be extra cautious and look out for one another,” he said. “What it all boils down to is the key to survival is to see and be seen.”

Guidelines for driving at night.
•Slowing down at night is a must. Know the stopping distance and above all, don’t overdrive your headlights (traveling faster than you’re able to see). Bad weather conditions can play tricks with your vision, distorting what the headlights pickup, cutting down on their illuminating power.
•Drive with a clean windshield, inside and out. A dirty windshield will create problems at night from glare of oncoming headlights. The light, diffused through the film may blind you or keep you from seeing unlighted objects.
•Increase visibility by ensuring that all headlights, taillights and signal lights are operating properly.
•Slow down and adjust driving to weather and road conditions. Some speeds may be too fast for road conditions.
•Don’t forget to promptly switch headlights from high to low beam when there are oncoming vehicles.
•Pedestrians also need to heed the warnings during reduced daylight hours.

Guidelines for pedestrians
•U.S. military personnel working in a traffic environment or flightline operations during hours of darkness and periods of reduced visibility must wear reflective vests or accessories, or reflective tape.
•Wear brightly colored, reflective clothing to improve visiblibility when off-duty.
•Carry a flashlight to reduce the chances of being struck by a car.
(Courtesy 435th Air Base Wing Safety Office)