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How to Stay Safe During Night Walks

By Butler Prather LLP on June 27, 2019

Night walks feel great. Walking once it gets dark because of short winter days, or to beat the heat of summer require strategies to be sure to stay safe. Short walks to the car, or long walks for exercise, all need the same precautions.

Night walking safety

Night Walking Safety Rules

Differences between walking after dark and walking in daylight means changing habits to stay safe.

  • Night walking should be on the sidewalk and pathways off the road, not on the street.
  • In order to react quickly to vehicles, night walkers face into traffic to see clearly.
  • Exercising extra caution when crossing streets helps night walkers stay safer. Drivers do not expect night walking pedestrians in their path.
  • Safety is always in numbers. The routes commonly used by other runners and walkers are the safest.
  • Uneven sidewalks, rocks, roots, potholes, and trash become almost invisible in the dark. Nighttime walking means watching the ground ahead to watch for upcoming hazards.
  • Headlights blind those who stare into the light. Paths with infrequent lighting levels changes make for a better nighttime walking path.

Make Yourself Seen – Wear Reflective Gear

Reflective stripes allow cars to recognize night walkers. Small reflective patches, especially on black, make it harder to see people walking on the side of the road. Night walking clothes need reflective stripes on both the front and back, as well as down each side. Backpacks and shoes with reflective patches make excellent additions, while a reflective vest still remains the ultimate choice.

Light the Path

Even areas with streetlights have some dark spots. Lightweight LED flashlights come in handy. Some night walkers prefer a hands-free headlamp to eliminate the stress on their wrists. LED lamps provide light for much longer before the battery needs replacing. Many models allow an adjustment to the angle of the beam to focus it to the best advantage.

Hats with built in LED lights in the brim, or units that clip onto the bill work well, but the angle of light depends on how the wearer tilts their head.

Stranger Danger

Fear of strangers keeps many potential night walkers indoors until dawn. Strangers who attack at night just look for an easy target.

Trust those instincts. If worried someone follows them, night walkers should simply turn around. Letting the other person see their presence is known reduces risks. General advice says go somewhere public and safe.

By walking with a friend or dog nightwalkers reduce the risk of attack. Carrying a big walking stick helps, too. Confidence projected while walking makes an attacker think twice. Distractions like wearing earphones or gazing at a phone increase risk. When a suspicious person appears, crossing the street or otherwise changing paths to avoid them works.

Keep Some Keys Handy

Keeping some keys handy at all times sounds like an old cliché. Fumbling around for them outside the door or at the car distracts from the surroundings. Holding them inside a pocket, then bringing them out with the right key ready and in position minimizes distractions.

Avoid Distracted Walking at Night

A handy flashlight or GPS on a phone help some, but the phone also provides big distractions. Night vision diminishes looking at a lighted screen, making the shift to the path ahead more difficult. Vehicles cannot see nighttime walkers very well, so anyone out at night needs to pay more attention to the vehicles.

Night Walking Events

Night walks become a full night of entertainment by entering a night walking event. Local walking clubs frequently host special event walks such as Christmas Light walks, or Halloween decoration walks.

Women walking alone –particularly in the nighttime – risk harassment, or assault. Yet, night walks happen. These tips help everyone to stay safer.

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