High visibility clothing is the new black these days; everyone is telling people who walk to dress up in reflective clothing so that the people who drive don't have to slow down too much. But it gets particularly egregious and stupid on Hallowe'en, where responsible organizations like highway authorities recommend dressing kids in vests.
And it is even more egregious and silly in Canada, where the Canadian Automobile Association, a voice for its members "on issues such as traffic safety", comes out and recommends that parents dress their kids like this.
High Visibility is Key
Clothing and footwear with built-in reflectors is best to help you and your little one stay visible in the dark from any distance. While wearing reflective gear you can be seen 1000ft away, as opposed to just wearing white or other bright colours. If your child’s costume doesn’t come with reflectors, don’t worry. You can easily add reflective tape or shapes to the trim of the costume so it glows in the beam of a car’s headlights. Make sure to place the reflective tape or shapes on a moving part of the body (legs work best) so it’s easily visible to drivers.
Not once do they suggest that their members think about driving safely and slowly, or do they suggest that perhaps it is a good night to leave the car in the garage. Nope, it is all about how to dress the kids.
The American Automobile Association is in on this too.
And Fedex Cares, at least about kids, even if they don't about cyclists.
Now don't get me wrong; it is probably not a bad idea. But when all the Automobile Associations and the guys with the trucks are doing this, it just smells of victim blaming. It's a setup- if a kid gets hit, the driver says "I didn't see her" and the parent gets blamed for not dressing the kid properly.
Wouldn't it be nice if they did posters for drivers instead of parents?
Oh wait, here is another AAA poster that actually talks to drivers, tells them to slow down. Instead of telling parents not to let their kids wear masks, it tells drivers to recognize that the kids cannot see them. It doesn't blame the victim; instead it tells the driver to be careful. Thank you, AAA.
Over on Curbed, Alissa Walker writes a powerful post, Pedestrian-shaming campaigns have got to stop. This is doubly true on Hallowe'en. People who make the decision to drive on this night know what they are in for, what to watch out for.