Staying safe in the dark
Darker nights can be great fun for little ones: bright lights and Christmas decorations are fun to spot, there’s a sense of it somehow being more grown up to be outside, the excitement of splashing in puddles reflecting the street lights, listening out for noises when you can’t see what’s around… it’s all part of the magic of being outdoors.
It can also be dangerous if other street and road users can’t see you well. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), 40% of collisions occur in the dark, despite most road activity being during daylight hours.
When visibility’s low it’s worth taking a few extra precautions to ensure everyone stays safe in the early morning or late afternoon. Here are our tips for staying safe in the dark:
Be bright, be seen
Whether you’re on a bike or on foot, the number one way to avoid collisions is to be seen. All Kozi Kidz jackets have integrated reflective bands, but whether you use our kit or not, check your brightness! Choose light coloured or high visibility jackets, or add reflective strips to your usual gear, around the arms and on the back. If your children wear backpacks, add reflective stickers and strips to these so they show up as cars approach from behind.
If you’re on a bike, make sure your lights work and are mud-free, and check that your reflectors are in place.
Choose well-lit routes
You may find it safer to choose alternative routes in the winter months. Well-lit streets mean you’re more likely to be seen.
If you usually walk on narrow pavements using wider pedestrian routes will give you more space and mean you avoid getting splashed with muddy puddles when the weather’s wet.
If you have independently-minded children, they may well enjoy running ahead as you walk together. It’s a good idea to set ground rules for the darker months. Think about what these need to be for your circumstances: it all depends on your route and the ages of your children.
You may want everyone to stick closely together and hold hands, or you might have an agreement that everyone stays within eyesight and earshot. It’s worth agreeing a meeting point that everyone knows about should you get separated.
Playing games in the dark can be fun for older children. If you’re playing hide and seek, make sure everyone knows to stay in your designated playing area, and it might add to the fun and safety to give everyone a torch.
And if you’re driving, help keep everyone safe by following these guidelines:
Stick to the limit
Driving safely and within speed limits is always important, but especially so in the dark. Give yourself extra time to respond to unexpected hazards.
Drive defensively – if you’re not sure you can fit into a gap, wait for another opportunity.
Having headlights on full beam is helpful on county roads but don’t forget to dip your lights when other cars approach so you don’t dazzle other drivers.
Don’t drive while tired
Apart from the obvious risk of falling asleep at the wheel, being tired slows down our responses. Get fresh air and coffee as a short-term fix, and avoid driving at night if you can use alternative transport.