Child waiting at a pedestrian crossing

The Invisible Child: tips for children walking to school

I came across this image on social media and it really struck me. The more I looked, the more worried I felt. It's a really interesting pair of photos showing what a difference clothing can make to your visibility in the dark and low light conditions.
The same child appears in both photos, waiting in the same place at the pedestrian crossing. In the first, the child is wearing a yellow raincoat and wellies plus a red hat. They are quite easy to spot and as a driver paying proper attention, you'd have no difficulty seeing them.
The second photo though is a completely different story. The child is wearing dark clothing and shoes, with a dark hood pulled up. At a quick glance, the child simply isn't there - at all. They have merged into the tree behind them and are, to all intents and purposes, invisible.
As a driver, I know that drivers MUST be on the alert at all times for more vulnerable road users. But I also know that people get distracted and accidents happen.
As a parent, I have spent hours teaching my children road safety. But I also know that they're young, they get distracted, they forget, they can't accurately judge risk. And accidents happen.
As an adult, we know how to resolve this - wear luminous or day-glo colours, preferably with reflective panels, carry a torch etc etc. And we have a good grasp of how drivers behave and how to assess risk.
But for young teens, it's not so clear cut. Certainly, when my daughters started walking to the bus stop for secondary school, they didn't want to stand out and the thought of wearing a luminous tabard or sash was social death! And, despite all my efforts, they still had moments where all their road sense seemed to desert them.

LED backpacks: the answer?

So I designed an LED backpack which was pretty unobtrusive in the day time, but contained two strips of LED lights which could be turned on when needed to make them stand out from the shadows. It's never going to be a substitute for proper road safety education for pedestrians and drivers alike, but being seen is a large part of the battle. 
If you're concerned about your child's visibility on the way to school, have a look at our LED light up backpacks and read our blog 8 tips for staying safe walking to school
Photo credit: Christian Thomas

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