Black clothing is deeply embedded in Seattle's culture and fashion. But with the short days, dense fog and rainy weather, motorists often find themselves at odds with pedestrians, and dark clothing contributes to injury risks.
In January, daylight quickly rotates to night at around 4:30 PM. That time also marks Seattle's bustling after-work rush, with dense commuter traffic amassing at every intersection. And with the lack of sufficient lighting, pedestrians can be difficult to see. Additionally, the Northwest's damp atmosphere can result in fog, making visibility nearly impossible.
Dark clothing poses a problem for Seattle pedestrians and drivers
According a 2017 SDOT traffic report, approximately 553 pedestrian accidents occurred in 2016, with the majority happening in Seattle's downtown district. That is nearly a 6 percent increase from the previous year. And out of the 553 accidents involving pedestrians, 433 resulted in severe or fatal injuries.
In general, pedestrian accidents are more likely to happen at night and in urban areas, as outlined in a 2014 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Data from the report shows that during the months of January and February, 34 percent of pedestrian accidents happen between 6 and 9 PM.
And when it comes to pedestrian accidents in Seattle, the time of day is one of the leading factors. An article by The Seattle Times, offers first-hand testimony from drivers who have experienced near-misses with pedestrians. One resident stated, "I have also had some close calls driving a car when a very stealthy bike rider appears 'out of nowhere' wearing dark clothing and a dark helmet."
What Seattle pedestrians can do to be seen
There are safeguards pedestrians can put in place before walking during Seattle's darkest hours. Wearing bright clothing can make it easier for motorists to see pedestrians and yield accordingly. A Science Buddies article suggests wearing fluorescent clothing and reflective attire.
Even if you're dedicated to your dark sense of fashion, it's always wise to equip yourself with reflective tools that can make your presence known at night. Reflective clothing tape can be placed on pants, jackets and boots for higher visibility. It's also advisable to use a brightly colored umbrella or rain jacket during the wet weather.
Always stay in areas designated for pedestrians, such as sidewalks, walking paths and crosswalks. Before using a crosswalk, always make sure the coast is clear, as some negligent drivers may be tempted to run through traffic signals.
While it's advisable to implement safeguards before walking at night, you can't always rely on drivers to act responsibly. If you have sustained an injury in a collision due to a driver's negligence, an experienced Seattle pedestrian accident attorney can help weight your options. The attorneys at Nelson Langer Engle, PLLC have decades of experience serving Seattle and the surrounding area. Contact us today for a free consultation.