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Why Your Dog Needs a Hi-Vis Jacket

Beth loves animals and aims to be a responsible pet owner. She shares some tips about how to keep animals happy and healthy.

A rottweiler proudly shows off his reflective safety vest.

A rottweiler proudly shows off his reflective safety vest.

Dog Walkers, Pets, and Exercise

A happy and healthy pet is one that has plenty of exercise, eats a balanced diet and is loved. The same can be said about their owners too! This means that you and your dog will be out and about whatever the weather; rain or shine, morning, noon, and night. You will be walking outside on dark winter evenings, and on storm clouded days.

Unless you live in a very isolated place, the chances are that at some point in your walk, you will be on or near a road. Cars travel at high speeds and need a considerable braking distance to come to a complete stop. To help drivers avoid hitting you and your dog you need to “see and be seen.”

Take a torchlight so that you can see where you are walking, but also wear something reflective so that a car’s headlight beams highlight you from a long way away.

What Is a Hi-Vis Jacket?

A hi-vis coat or jacket is usually made of waterproof material and has pieces of reflective tape sewn onto it. It can be designed as a harness with thin reflective strips, or be a complete human jacket or mini doggy coat.

I bought this reflective safety vest for my dog as it provides some protection if it rains, as well as makes her very visible to passing cars.

What Is the Difference Between Florescent Fabric and Reflective Tape?

You may have noticed that a car’s headlights will pick out the eyes of passing animals at night. Light is reflected from the back of the animal’s eyeball due to its mirror-like surface. Animals that hunt in the dark, including cats and dogs, have this feature, human eyes do not.

When you take your pet out for its evening walk, approaching cars can see the dog’s eyes if you are facing oncoming traffic. However, if you are moving in the same direction as the cars, then reflective tape on clothing is a way of replicating this bright bounce-back effect.

Florescent fabrics work by absorbing invisible ultraviolet light from sunlight. Special pigments in the material then release those UV rays as visible light. It can only do this in areas where there is natural light, so it is not recommended for night-time wear or dark environments.

How Many Dogs Are Killed By Cars?

The exact number of dogs killed in road accidents each year is not known. There are several websites that collect data from the public about roadkill. One of the biggest of these projects is which collates data from California and Maine.

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There is a similar UK citizen science project called Project Splatter that is run by Cardiff University. You can go online and add the date and type of any animals you find dead on roads. Reports include domestic cats and dogs, as well as wildlife.

By using data from these sites, and extrapolating the numbers to cover the whole of the country, it is estimated that more than one million pet dogs are killed by cars in the US every year.

In addition, there are millions more that survive a collision but are badly injured. Many of these accidents occur at dusk or at night-time when there is poor visibility. An animal and its owner wearing a reflective vest have a much better chance of being seen and avoided by passing cars.

Electric Cars Are Quiet

There is a new potential danger for dogs on the road; electric cars. As yet, there are relatively few on our highways, but the number is growing daily. Their quietness means that you can be unaware of their approach until it is too late. Dogs have better hearing than humans, so they may be less impacted than their owners, but this is another good reason to make sure you and your pet are highly visible to motorists when out walking.

A vest or harness can be used to display information about service dogs.

A vest or harness can be used to display information about service dogs.

Hi Vis-Vests Can Have Dual Use

Reflective strips are a safety feature for your pet, but a pet’s vest can also be used to inform passers-by about his owner’s or his own disability. For example, service dogs often wear a harness with a message; the most common being guide dogs that help visually impaired people, hearing dogs for deaf owners, and helping dogs for those with disabilities that limit their movement.

However, dogs have problems too. I have seen the following messages on doggie coats. “I am a nervous dog. Please do not stroke me” and “I am a greedy dog. Please do not give me treats.” If you are planning to buy something similar for your pet, remember to add some reflective patches so that cars can avoid him too.

A car's stopping distance is your thinking time plus the time it takes to apply the brakes.

A car's stopping distance is your thinking time plus the time it takes to apply the brakes.

Car Stopping Distances

Most motorists underestimate how long it takes to come to a complete halt. Vehicles driven at speed have a lot of momentum, and poor visibility or rain will make it harder to stop.

A car’s stopping distance is made up of the thinking distance and the braking distance. The stopping distance for an average car in good weather at 20mph is 40 feet. At 50mph it's 174 feet, and at 70mph it will take 315 feet to come to a complete stop.

What Can Affect Thinking Distance?

Apart from your speed, the British Automobile Association says that the following factors affect a driver’s reaction time.

  1. Drugs and alcohol. Drinking and taking drugs both slow down your reaction time. Slower reactions increase the distance covered before you react to danger ahead.
  2. Distractions. If you're not completely focused on the road ahead then it'll take you longer to react.
  3. Sat-navs, mobile phones and other in-car tech can distract drivers. Talking to passengers and fiddling with the radio or heating can also divide your attention.
  4. Tiredness. Lack of sleep severely affects driver attention, awareness and reaction time. On longer journeys, you should take a break every couple of hours. Research has shown that after driving for 2 hours you'll be less able to concentrate and slower to react.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

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