It's shocking that pedestrians are still being injured and killed by drivers at night in this day and age!
Drivers say they didn’t see them until it was too late to avoid a collision. Too often, I've almost been that driver - startled by someone walking along the side of the road dressed in black head to toe, invisible until the last moment - blending perfectly into the dark night around them. Pedestrian injuries and fatalities are called 'accidents' but in reality they're mostly predictable collisions just waiting to happen. You can't avoid what you can't see.
60% of pedestrians involved in vehicle collisions suffer head injuries that are life-altering. Unable to live independently, very few ever return to previous careers, education or family responsibilities; life is now an endless daily struggle. A tragic loss for the victim, their families. and friends. What a terrible waste of talent, human potential and future opportunity. It's expensive financially and on many levels for those directly involved, our health care system and society as a whole.
As a former RN, I've seen way too much avoidable misery and wanted to help. Drawing inspiration from my family heritage of seamstresses, designers and inventors focused on textile arts and practical solutions was a good place to start. My Swiss grandmother ran a successful lace making business. My electrician grandfather invented machines and gadgets to pleat fabric for fancy collars. My aunt designed custom uniforms for businesses (as was the style at the time) to reflect the latest fashion trends in Milan and Paris. My uncle managed the factory to produce these beautiful uniforms - worn all over Europe. Sewing and fashion was a family passion.
My parents immigrated to Canada and raised a family of six children. Money was always very tight so my mother sewed most of our clothes. I remember hearing her sewing machine humming well past midnight. Our childhood was enriched with learning to make things, fix things, and being productive. We learned how to sew, knit, embroider and do all kinds of crafts.
Being frugal was embedded in our DNA. Creating something useful or lovely out of practically nothing was rewarded with highest praise. We sewed doll and teddy bear outfits from scrap fabric. My brothers built go carts from discarded bicycle parts and scrap wood. Thrifting in second hand shops was an opportunity to add to our wardrobe or find old furniture to renew by repainting and re-upholstering it into stylish matching sets.
Long before environmental awareness was a social concept, we were encouraged to recycle, reuse and re-purpose everything possible under the ’Waste Not, Want Not’ banner. "Zero waste" was a natural necessary concept. Plain common sense! We "Reuse, Recycle, Reduce Waste and Up-Cycle" in our daily production process. We need solutions that are versatile and can be used interchangeably between the coats and jackets that people already own without creating more waste making current garments redundant because they aren't visible at night.
If improving pedestrian safety with night visibility is the goal, then we need to make it easy and attractive for people to make it part of their everyday awareness and routine. “Design exists to serve a purpose and should have an impact in real life. Design needs to take human behaviour into account”. <https://www.pentagram.com/about/paula-scher >
There is simple solution! Retroreflective technology has existed for decades!
North American consumers have not made night visibility a prioirty. In Norway, 40% of pedestrians wear reflective material at night. My goal is to find ways to change that by offering solutions that are attractive and fashionable. It’s easy to be visible at night and can become a habit as automatic as fastening your seatbelt.
It took a long time to shift public awareness to understanding that seatbelts could save lives and that drinking and driving was not acceptable – and it’s made a huge difference in countless lives.
It’s time for us to do the same for pedestrians by making it easy and acceptable to be visible at night. Yes, drivers need to be alert and responsible, but pedestrians need to do their part and be visible as well. Every life matters!
Your suggestions and comments are welcome.
Irene Dixon, Founder & Designer