Night Walking Strategies

If your schedule leaves you walking at dawn, dusk, or after dark, you should learn to do so safely. Whether you find yourself walking in the dark due to the short days of winter, exercising, or because of an overnight walking event, use these strategies to stay safe.

  1. Wear Reflective Gear to be Seen – Black may be slimming, but you need a reflective stripe so you can be seen in the dark. Cars may not recognize you as a human if you have only a couple of small reflective patches. Your walking clothes should have reflective stripes in the front, back, and down the sides. Many packs and shoes have reflective patches or stripes. Wearing a reflective safety vest is a very good choice to ensure you’ll be seen when walking at night. There are many types of reflective gear to consider.


  1. Light Your Way – Even if you are walking in an area with streetlights, you may encounter some dark patches. A lightweight flashlight can come in handy. Or, you can wear a headlamp to keep your hands free and not stress your wrists. An LED headlamp will give you light for many more hours before replacing the battery compared with standard bulbs. Look for a model that allows you to adjust the angle of the beam so it will focus where you need it.


  1. Night Walking Safety Rules – Walking after dark is not the same as walking in daylight. You need to observe several rules.
  • Use sidewalks and off-road paths, rather than the street.
  • Walk facing traffic so you can see and react to vehicles.
  • Use extra caution when crossing streets. Drivers do not expect pedestrians to be out walking at night.
  • Safety in numbers: Use the same routes used by other walkers and runners.
  • Beware of tripping hazards. It is harder to see uneven sidewalks, roots, rocks, potholes, and trash when it’s dark. Walk with your eyes, noting the ground 15 feet ahead to see upcoming hazards.
  • Don’t be blinded by the light. Headlights can make it difficult for you to see for a while. Choose paths without frequent changes in lighting levels.
  1. Avoid Distracted Walking at NightMobile phones are handy to use as flashlights and to track where you are, but they are also a big source of distraction. Are you really using it to light your path, or are you texting or playing? Your night vision won’t be as acute if you’ve been looking at the lighted screen instead of the path ahead. Since vehicles can’t see you well at night, you need to pay more attention to them.


  1. Shift Your Walking Time – When you just can’t enjoy walking in the dark, try shifting your walking time or place. You may want to do a couple of shorter walks before or after your workday, or during breaks.