Hello ICE Reflector Day

News date: October 1, 2020
Hello ICE Reflector Day

Poland has the highest number of pedestrians deaths – our country still leads in the infamous EU statistics. On the occasion of Reflector Day, we would like to remind you of the importance of the road traffic regulations and the good visibility of pedestrians on the road.


According to official police statistics, 793 pedestrians were killed and a total of 6,361 people injured on Polish roads in 2019. Most accidents happened during the autumn and winter months, where the shorter days make pedestrians much less visible on the road. That is why since 2016, following the Scandinavian example, Reflector Day has been organised throughout the country.


At first sight, it seems that road safety is improving in this country. The 30,288 accidents that occurred in 2019 is significantly down on the 2010 figures (38,832 accidents) or those of a year later (40,065 accidents). Unfortunately, this is largely illusionary, as increasing numbers of people are dying on the roads on average - the number of accidents is decreasing while the number of victims has remained at about three thousand deaths per year. In all the published road safety statistics, the performance of our country is worse than the European Union average. The Scandinavian countries should be our inspiration in this area. According to Eurostat data, Norway and Sweden have about 20 road fatalities per million inhabitants. In Poland this statistic is almost four times worse – for every million inhabitants we have about 75 fatal road accident victims. We also do very badly in comparison with the EU countries in terms of protecting the most vulnerable road users, i.e. pedestrians.


Education, visibility and infrastructure


Since we joined the European Union, there has not been a single year in which we have not led the infamous list of countries where most pedestrians are killed. The situation is gradually changing for the better, although merely from the tragic (1951 pedestrian victims in 2007) to the very bad (793 victims in 2019). Meanwhile, the Norwegians have managed to reduce the number of pedestrian deaths from 23 to 15.


“For many years now, the high number of car accidents involving pedestrians that resulted in injuries has been a serious road safety problem in Poland. The proportion of pedestrians killed on the roads is also high. It is therefore important to systematically improve the safety of unprotected road users,” stressed Superintendent Robert Opas, Traffic Office of the National Police Headquarters. He also added: “Popular opinion is that the victims are people who are drunk or not visible, but children and the elderly often die on the roads as well. Ensuring safety is not just the responsibility of the police. The safety of pedestrians and cyclists depends on a number of factors and the actions of many entities, as well as: road infrastructure, awareness and preparation of road users, the regulations and their degree of observance and technological solutions in vehicle construction.


As the representative of the National Police Headquarters stressed, ensuring pedestrian safety is not only a task for law enforcement, but calls for joint action between many entities.


“The statistics are improving, but we still have a lot of work to do to catch up with countries where roads are safe for pedestrians. The most vulnerable are the elderly and children, who can only be protected through knowing the road traffic rules, vigilance and responsibility. In order to improve their safety, it is necessary to act in a multi-faceted way, teaching them how to behave on the road, but also taking care of the infrastructure in sensitive places or equipping pedestrians with reflective elements. Within the Hello ICE programme, we focus on activities aimed at the youngest road users, believing that in this way we change not only the present but, above all, the future,” claimed Katarzyna Wójcik, a communications expert at Budimex.


On the one hand, educating all traffic participants, drivers and pedestrians, is crucial. On the other, the experience of Nordic countries clearly shows that the adaptation of infrastructure - the construction of pavements, speed bumps, lighting and testing new solutions, such as 3D belts - all plays an extremely important role. In northern countries, such as Poland, where darkness falls very early in autumn and winter, it is important to ensure maximum visibility on the roads. This is where these popular reflectors come in handy.


Life-saving seconds


Organised in Poland since 2016, Reflector Day is 1 October, from an idea initiated by Norwegians - a nation that should be followed by all others when it comes to road safety. The National Police Headquarters is behind this initiative in our country. The beginning of October is the symbolic beginning of the autumn-winter period on our roads, the worst period in terms of accidents involving pedestrians, and the period where more than 60% of all accidents occur. Most are caused by drivers who do not adapt their speed to road conditions, including reduced visibility. A pedestrian equipped with visible reflective elements gives the driver extra seconds to react. These few seconds often mean the difference between life and death.


“In the autumn and winter, weather conditions worsen and there is less daylight, which makes visibility on the road very poor. Drivers notice pedestrians later, especially if the pedestrian is wearing dark clothes. The colour of the outerwear affects pedestrian safety. On an unlit roadway, in dark jackets, we become hardly visible to drivers. The use of reflective elements increases pedestrian visibility considerably. The statistics clearly show that most pedestrian victims of road accidents in 2020 had no reflective elements. According to the provisions of the Act on Road Traffic Law, pedestrians who travel on the road after dusk outside built-up areas are obliged to use reflective elements in a way that is visible to other traffic participants,” says Superintendent Robert Opas.


Dusk is the greatest enemy of pedestrians - the police statistics show that between 4 and 7 in the evening, 1/3 of all accidents involving pedestrians occur. In the morning, although children are going to school and adults to work, the number of accidents is marginal - which is due to our climate and the fact that it becomes light relatively early. However, after the European Union plans to abolish the change to winter time in 2022, it will not be uncommon for the trip to school to start even before sunrise. This is why the Reflector Day is such an important initiative, the aim of which is to increase pedestrians' awareness of the importance of ensuring their good visibility on the road.


“We wholeheartedly support this initiative. Every action, even the tiniest one, to improve pedestrian safety is extremely important. I hope that one day Polish roads will become so safe that we no longer sit at the bottom of the European ranking, but instead are able to set an example. For the time being, however, we should wear reflectors, slow down before pedestrian crossings and be kind and responsible on the roads,” urged Katarzyna Wójcik


On the occasion of Reflector Day, the mascot of the Hello ICE programme, Tiger Budi, and football player Sebastian Mila visited children from two Warsaw schools. The children were given reflectors and could play with and talk to their role models.