Lights for Night Walking Safety and Visibility

Walking at night requires you to think about how you'll light your path, especially in areas without streetlights. In addition to wearing reflective gear, you should also use lights, simply to be more visible to cars and other people.

Vehicles approaching you from side streets or different angles may not illuminate your reflective gear with their headlights, so wearing lights or strobes can improve your safety. The following are some light options for night walking, as well as a few tips for staying safe when walking in the dark.

The Reality in Numbers

More than 5,000 pedestrians are killed by vehicles each year, with a large percentage of fatalities occurring on neighborhood streets. Don't become a statistic. Reflect on this and light up for safety.

Two friends with headlamps walking together at night
SolStock / Getty Images 

Strobe Lights

Small flashing strobe lights can be clipped to your clothing to provide visibility without adding any weight. Look for them in cycling shops or running stores.

Strobe lights usually have a long-lasting battery and can be turned on and off easily. They are especially good at getting drivers' attention at night and making them aware of your presence.

Flashlights and Flashlight Apps

Can you see the path ahead of you to avoid holes and tripping hazards? Many walkers use their cellphone flashlight app. If you didn't realize your phone had one, do a quick search and get acquainted with it. It's very handy, especially if you enter an area without streetlights.

You might, however, prefer to carry a dedicated flashlight. If so, choose one that is lightweight but powerful. LED flashlights often have a longer-lasting battery life and are rechargeable via USB. Some, such as WALKBRIGHT, are designed with a red light in the back so you are more visible as well.

Headlamps

If you walk fast with your arms bent, you may prefer a headlamp to a flashlight for steady illumination of your path. There are many varieties.

Some, such as the Petzl Tactikka LED headlamp, have a single strap with an adjustable angle for the beam. It is lightweight, the batteries last a long time, and the bulbs are nearly unbreakable.

Others have a cross-strap over the head for better stability. Look for these headlamp options at outdoor stores.

LED Hats

LED hats incorporate lights on the front of the hat or on the brim and may also have rear safety lights or a strobe. They are an all-in-one option. You can also find clip-on LED lights to add to your favorite baseball cap.

One problem with some designs is that you can't adjust the angle of the beam. Look for a hat that will put the spotlight where you need it so it's illuminating your path rather than the horizon. One example is the Panther Vision PowerCap.

Before buying these caps, make sure to check for any washing instructions.

Reflective Clothing and Gear

For lightweight safety, reflective gear like safety sashes, vests, armbands, and ankle bands are a good choice. You can keep it simple with an armband or ankle band that has an LED light strip or a flashing light.

A lighted sash or reflective vest that includes a strip of glowing lights on both the front and the back is even better for 360 degrees of safety, as you'll be more visible from every angle. Vests are often made in an airy mesh design for comfort when running. Look for these at running and sporting goods stores.

Keep in mind that the more you can make yourself look "human," the safer you might be. It can help drivers see that you are a person and not a stationary post or other object. So, the more reflective gear that you can place on different moving parts of your body, the better.

Glowsticks

Glowsticks aren't just for Halloween or the dance club anymore. Glowing sticks or hoops will set you apart at night.

A drawback is that the single-use ones quickly become trash. They also have a limited shelf life, which means you'll have to check their expiration dates rather than trying to stockpile them.

Putting them in the freezer once lit may keep them going for several uses. Better still, look for battery-operated glowsticks and dance jewelry, which are popular for use at dance clubs.

More Tips for Walking Safely at Night

Staying safe while walking at night generally means acting defensively. Be proactive and remember that you are an unexpected object for drivers at night.

  • Make sure drivers are aware of your presence in crosswalks and driveways by making eye contact before crossing in front of them, especially if they appear ready to turn right on a red light.
  • Use sidewalks or paths separated from roads when possible.
  • If there is no sidewalk, walk on the side of the road facing traffic (the left side in North America) so you can see oncoming vehicles. You'll have the advantage of seeing the headlights of approaching cars.
  • Remain aware and ready to move off the road if needed. 
  • If you carry a light, hold it on the side that is closest to the flow of traffic.

A Word From Verywell

In addition to being more visible to reduce your risk of being hit by a vehicle, follow common walking safety precautions when walking at night. This includes walking single file when with others and keeping your eyes on the road (not your phone).

It's even more important to stay aware of your surroundings. This includes looking for tripping hazards and possible "stranger danger" when walking at night.

Was this page helpful?
1 Source
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. CDC. Pedestrian Safety. Reviewed March 6, 2020.

Additional Reading
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pedestrian safety. Updated March 6, 2020.