The Estonian Credit Union is celebrating its 65th Anniversary this year, and in keeping with our community focus, we are giving away reflectors from Estonia to promote road safety awareness.
Reflectors have long been common practice in many areas of Europe, especially Estonia. Meant to be pinned to the edge of a coat, the reflector then dangles at the height of a car’s headlights, ensuring pedestrian visibility on dark roads and sidewalks.
Estonia has adopted the safety reflector as a mandatory accessory to be worn in the dark. In a country where the winter season can seem eternally dark even during the day, the reflector is an essential part of a pedestrian’s everyday attire. For some, it has also become somewhat of a fashion statement, with designer versions available for the style and safety-conscious individual.
The importance of road safety in Estonia has been emphasized through the increased regularity of police checks late last year, on the look-out for individuals missing their reflector. In addition to using reflectors for safety, thrifty Estonians appreciate avoiding the 40 € fine for failing to wear one.
One of the earliest examples of reflector usage was with Englishman Percy Shaw; attempting to navigate his vehicle on a dark, foggy evening, he was met with the two reflective eyes of a cat piercing through the darkness on the side of the winding road. It was through this experience that Shaw’s cat’s-eye reflective road studs were born.
Although his motivation was fueled more by his tractor and equipment visibility in the dark, Finnish farmer Arvi Lehti had a similar idea. His vision evolved and was expanded to include pedestrian safety. In Finland, today’s popular snowflake reflector design was created in 1973.
In a time where there are more cars on the road than ever before, being seen in the dark has become a necessity. According to Toronto Police Services, forty-five percent of Toronto’s street injuries and fatalities involve pedestrians. As the fall season begins in September and brings on the darkness faster, the number of pedestrians involved in car-related accidents also increases, bringing the issue of pedestrian visibility to the forefront in Toronto.
At the Estonian Credit Union, we hope to increase reflector awareness and the importance of pedestrian road-safety in our community. We encourage everyone to stay safe, and wear a reflector!
DIGITAL Estonian Life No. 37 - September 18, 2020
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