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News Blog: “Be Seen. Be Safe.” Traffic safety during the darker days of the year

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(Nov. 7, 2016) - Daylight savings time ended on Sunday, so it’s time to step up your visibility and make sure you’re doing your part to travel with care.

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People driving can increase visibility by using their headlights, leaving a safe distance between vehicles to increase your cone of vision, and continuously scanning the environment looking for people walking and bicycling. Always be alert and practice extra caution during winter’s rain and low light. Depth perception, color recognition and peripheral vision can be compromised in the dark, and the glare of headlights from an oncoming vehicle can significantly impact a driver’s vision. Even with high-beam headlights on, visibility is limited creating less time to react to something in the road, especially when driving at higher speeds.

People driving need to:

  • Remember to practice patience and slow down
  • Stay in your lane and beware of drivers who dart from lane to lane
  • Even though the route may be familiar, don't go on autopilot; stay alert and ALWAYS watch for vulnerable road users such as people walking, biking and rolling
  • Don't touch your phone, eat, drink or do other things that are distracting

Did you know that as we age we have greater difficulty seeing at night? Night vision is the ability to see well in low-light conditions. A 50-year-old driver may need twice as much light to see as well as a 30-year-old. The American Optometric Association recommends older drivers:

  • Have annual vision exams
  • Reduce speed
  • Take a driving course; even experienced drivers can benefit from a refresher course, and some of the rules have probably changed
  • Minimize distractions, like talking with passengers or listening to the radio
  • Check with your doctor about side effects of prescription drugs
  • Limit driving to daytime hours if necessary

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People walking and biking can increase their visibility during low-light hours by wearing reflective gear and using safety lights.

Did you know that you’re first visible to people driving from 500 feet away when you’re wearing reflective clothing? Compare this to just 55 feet away when wearing dark colors with no reflective gear or lights.

PBOT’s coordinated “Be Seen. Be safe.” street teams (volunteers and staff) will be out at busy intersections, high crash corridor roadways, and other key locations this week handing out safety lights and reflective stickers while encouraging Portland’s more vulnerable road users to brighten up their attire during the darker fall and winter months. 

Find PBOT staff and community volunteers at the following locations this week:

  • Monday, Nov. 7, 4:30 – 6:00 PM – N Williams Ave/NE Morris to NE Going
  • Monday, Nov. 7, 4:30 – 6:00 PM – SE Foster/SE 80th
  • Monday, Nov. 7, 4:30 – 6:00 PM – Providence Park MAX Station at SW 18/SE Morrison
  • Tuesday, Nov. 8, 7:00 – 8:30 AM – E Burnside/NE 16
  • Wednesday, Nov. 9, 4:30 – 6:00 PM – SE Division/SE 82
  • Thursday, Nov. 10, 4:30 – 6:00 PM – Rosa Parks/Delaware/Greeley
  • Thursday, Nov. 10th, 4:30 – 6:00/6:30 PM at NE Cully & NE Killingsworth 
  • Friday, Nov. 11, 4:30 – 6:00 PM – Greeley/Bryant/Lombard

In addition, the Islamic School of Portland staff will be distributing lights and stickers to parents and students at SW Capitol Highway and Alfred and PCC Sylvania volunteers will be handing out materials at key locations around campus throughout the week.