Safe to say, it’s a Scandinavian innovation
Born in the realm of clever invention and beautiful design, the pedestrian safety reflector was developed in the 1950s. The aim was to increase safety awareness and protect the Scandinavian population on the roads during long dark winters. Since then, reflectors have become a vital, lifesaving accessory across Europe and the world.
Reflectors have direct effect on road safety
The added visibility provided by a personal safety reflector gives a driver enough time to reduce speed or stop for pedestrians. At a speed of 60 km/h with a high beam, a driver has about 25 seconds more reaction time when a pedestrian is wearing a reflector. At 110 km/h the added reaction time is about 14 seconds. This can be the difference between life and death.
Pedestrians are three times more likely to die in a road accident than other road users. In Australia almost 200 pedestrians are killed annually (BITRE, Australian Road Deaths Database). That’s 1.1 persons per 100 000 citizens killed each year, meeting the average of the OECD countries. In comparison, Norway (which has the highest reflector use in the world) sits at 0.5 (IRTAD). In 2013, cyclists’ deaths on our roads hit a fifteen-year high with 50 fatalities (BITRE).
The Scandinavian countries cooperate on road safety issues, and reducing pedestrian accidents has been one of their top priorities. Pedestrians killed or injured in traffic have decreased significantly since the 1970s. And although this development cannot be said to be a result of the widespread use of reflectors alone, it largely correlates with the access and popularity of reflectors. In Finland and Sweden, the pedestrian death toll is approximately 30 persons annually (Finland 5.4 million citizens, Sweden 9.6 million citizens).