With summer now over and fall soon coming to an end, it can be easy to forget that walking at night can be more of a concern. Nights this time of year tend to be darker and the days shorter, so extra care is required of the public when walking or jogging near roads.
It is important to make sure that oncoming traffic can clearly see you well in advance and adjust their position on the road accordingly. This danger made headlines recently in Hamilton, when a group of people walking along a road at night were almost hit by a car that swerved out of the way at the last second.
Cyclists often have reflectors or flashing lights attached to their helmets as a way of making their presence known to cars. Pedestrians and joggers can adopt such safety measures, too, by putting these attention getting embellishments on their jackets or shoes.
However, you can also start by taking some more basic precautions. If you plan on walking during low-light periods, be sure to wear light colored clothing. When visibility is low and a person is clad in darker shades, a driver may not notice them until it is too late to get out of the way.
Also, if you plan on walking or running, be aware of the hours when the sun is out. Days are shorter, and so is daylight, so think about how long your walk will take and when you should start in order to ensure you are done and home safe before dark. Parents need to impress the importance of this upon their children, and double check that they are complying.
Drivers also need to do their part by making sure to have their headlights on well before the sun has set. Be seen and avoid an unfortunate tragedy.
While unquestionably a tragedy, it is one that we should not blow out of proportion. We are more than halfway through 2017 and this is the first (and hopefully, only) murder of the year.
How one feels about safety is often dictated by where you live. There was a fatal shooting at Guelph General Hospital in 2015 and it captured headlines because that sort of thing just doesn’t happen here. The police in this city almost never draw their guns, let alone fire them. On the rare occasions that they do, they are almost never pointed at human beings.
When I mentioned that to a friend who lives in New York City, he just laughed. While the Big Apple is much safer now than it was, the idea that only one or two people might be murdered there per year seemed like a fairy-tale to him.
Of course, that is the United States and this is Canada. That same friend owns a gun. During a visit, I saw him take something out of a bedroom drawer and there it was. He noticed the look on my face, laughed, and said, “Have you ever held one of these before?” I hadn’t. In fact, I had never even seen a gun up close.
It was a strange feeling to know that I had a friend who owned a handgun. Few people in America would think that way, but I’ll bet many Canadians would be just as spooked as I was. I’m glad I live where I do and try to keep that in mind during those inevitable times when Guelph experiences a tragedy.