An important piece of safety equipment that is often overlooked on all variety of vehicles is the humble reflector. Why do I need reflectors? I’ve got lights! I heard this many times at the roadside after pointing out a lack of reflectors to a driver. True, but what happens if you park, break down or have to leave a disabled trailer at the roadside? What protects you and other road users at night? The reflectors.

Sad to say, but I can point to a fatal collision that I helped investigate where a lack of reflectors might have played a part. Maybe, just maybe the person hit would still be alive if the reflectors on his vehicle had been in good condition.

Generally, all vehicles require amber reflectors at the sides on the front and red reflectors on the sides and the rear. They are identified by the letter A in the collection of identifiers on the lens after DOT or SAE. Reflective markings, the long strips often seen on heavy commercial vehicles are acceptable reflectors when they are marked SAE-C, SAE-C2, 3 or 4.

The front of a vehicle is the only side where reflectors are not required. I can see a concern when someone decides not to follow the rules and parks on the wrong side of the road, especially when visibility is poor at night or when oncoming vehicle headlights reduce your ability to see ahead.

Who knew that an inexpensive piece of plastic could be so important?

Reference Links:

Cst. Tim Schewe (Ret.) runs DriveSmartBC, a community web site about traffic safety in British Columbia. For 25 years he was an officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, including five years on general duty, 20 in traffic and 10 as a collision analyst responsible of conducting technical investigations of collisions. He retired from policing in 2006 but continues to be active in traffic safety through the DriveSmartBC web site, teaching seminars and contributing content to newspapers and web site

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