Road Worker or Pre-Schooler? The Vest is The Same

Hi Folks! As you have probably figured out by now, I actually LOVE safety. Helmets, car seats, seat belts — all get a thumbs up from me. But when we start re-defining EVERY activity as high-risk and requiring special safety gear (or when the marketplace tries to convince us it does, so it can sell us more stuff), independence starts to seem too daunting.  A case in point:

Dear Free-Range Kids: I thought of you just now because I was driving through Watertown, Mass., a more hip and urban suburb than mine, and saw a mom with 3-4 preschool kids waiting at a crosswalk for the light to change. At first I thought the kids were dressed in Halloween costumes as construction workers. Then I realized they were wearing child-sized, neon safety vests for visibility. You know, the kind that flag-men water on road projects?  That was a first for me. The world is so dangerous that your child needs a safety vest just to walk down the street. – C.F.

 

Hello, big, scary world that requires ever more $afety gear just to get up in the morning!

 

 

102 Responses to Road Worker or Pre-Schooler? The Vest is The Same

  1. Ann November 5, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

    Won’t these vests simply draw attention to the children for easy access by predators? 😉

  2. Jennifer November 5, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    Those vests are required in Switzerland and the school gives them out at the beginning of the school year. Then again, Swiss children as young as five walk to school alone, and in the mornings it’s dark, especially in the winter, so I think they’re a good idea personally.

  3. Chris November 5, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

    It also seems to be part of the standard bicycling outfit. That and the stretchy but-padded pants.

  4. Marcy November 5, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    Yeah, I wish this was just silly, but we have had more than one SUV hit a kid near our elementary school this year…we have a LOT of walkers, but we also have a lot of SUVs in the area. The kids got hit because they are short and the drivers were texting. ANYTHING to make the kids more visible would be good and allow them to keep walking to and from school.

  5. TaraK November 5, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

    Perhaps she had a day care and was taking the crew to the park. Having them all wear the same thing makes it easier to count heads, especially if she’s sitting drinking a latte instead of hovering! 😉 Really, I have a friend who has those and I think it’s nutty. However, there may be a time and place for them.

  6. Val November 5, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    These are required in Belgium for children on school outings. I am in full support, have you ever driven on European roads!?! :)

  7. Angel November 5, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

    We have one for my son but he is 4 and he only wears it during harvest and planting seasons on the farm. It allows him to be outside and anyone in a tractor can see him playing in the yard. He knows not to go near the tractors unless his dad or I am around to go with him.

  8. Judy November 5, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    Granted this seems overprotective when you see it at a crosswalk with a traffic light, but there are many roads in that area that have no sidewalk, including some with fairly heavy traffic. Wearing a safety vest for walking on the street is just as reasonable as wearing one when working on the street. Walkers can be very hard to see and unfortunately drivers can be distracted and driving too fast. I’d recommend the mom wear one too.

  9. Leigh November 5, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

    If I was walking anywhere with four preschoolers, I would have them in bright vests too just so I could do an easy head count. Never mind anyone else, just so it was easier for me.
    Perschoolers are like herding cats.

  10. Jessika November 5, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    They’re required by daycare and pre-schools in Sweden, too. More and more adults are using them as well. I don’t think of it as over-protective, rather its a nifty way to make use of reflective light. It’s a drag to be driven into by a car/bike/other vehicle for the mere fact that you couldn’t be seen. With a vest like that you are most certainly visible.

  11. Beth November 5, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

    @Marcy, I kind of believe that if a driver is texting, no amount of brightly colored clothing is going to keep him/her from hitting a child. Really, how stupid does someone have to be to text while driving in a school zone? Or anywhere?

  12. Mike in Virginia November 5, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

    I don’t see the downside to this. Not much different than wearing helmets while riding a bike (something I didn’t do as a kid, but that’s not a reason not to do it), or reflectors on bikes, or seatbelts in cars. My rule on safety is to weigh the risk and any down-side. Vests just seem like a good idea, and I don’t see the harm to a child’s development in wearing them.

  13. Emily November 5, 2012 at 2:16 pm #

    I agree with Lenore–the safety vests are a bit much. I attended nursery school and kindergarten as a child, and we didn’t require “safety vests” to walk down the street in the late 80’s, when I was that age, so why is it any different now? Anyway, this past summer, I’d go to the waterfront quite regularly to walk or run (with or without my dog), and swim in the lake. Often, I’d see day camp groups there, dressed identically in obnoxiously bright T-shirts, printed with “emergency contact” numbers, and these kids were NEVER allowed to take off their T-shirts, even to go swimming. Not only was this overkill, but really, a child swimming in a loose T-shirt could be hazardous, because if the shirt billowed over the child’s head underwater, then the child could panic and run into trouble. I also went to summer camp as a child, and some of the camps offered T-shirts as an option for the parents to order, but it was never mandatory.

  14. Jessica November 5, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

    Okay so hi from Massachusetts. There are two things that I feel bear mentioning here… literally a month ago, there was a little kid in Stoughten MA who was killed by a driver obeying the speed limit, doing everything right, just freak accident when the kid darted in front of him, so Eastern MA is a little on edge right now about these things.
    Also, as the parent of a former Perkins preschooler, let’s bear in mind that the Perkins School for the Blind is in Watertown. That town goes above and beyond to help the visually impaired and maybe it was some Perkins kids just trying to be more visible to each other, or being supervised by a person who has vision issues.
    Sidenote: The Perkins parent group I was in were the people who taught me how to be free range, how to step back, no matter what sort of issues my daughter had, and let her make her own mistakes, let her do everything she can for herself, let her impress me. She hasn’t failed to.

  15. Cyn November 5, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    I think everyone so far is missing Lenore’s point. Free Range parenting is not about being unsafe, but about taking the time to teach our children how to be situationally aware. We don’t know all of the details in this situation, but if it is a woman who is relying on these vests to do HER job of keeping these children safe, then these vests really only give the ILLUSION of safety. No amount of “safety gear” will protect a child crossing the street from a reckless driver – even in a school zone. Free Range parenting requires that we teach children that although the cars SHOULD stop for a school crosswalk, it doesn’t mean they WILL stop. And that even though they are “safely” on the sidewalk, they need to watch and listen for cars (because there ARE people dumb enough to text and drive).

  16. Warren November 5, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

    I am a tireman by trade, and my youngest came to work with me quite often, on Saturdays. The vest I was required to wear, while on roadside emegency calls, she would wear, while we were in customers lots, doing work. Why? Because a 7 yr old girl is not an expected sight, in that location. Walking around town? I would see this as an expected sight, to see kids walking around.

    Next we will see them wearing helmets, knee pads, elbow pads and gloves, just in case the little china dolls take a tumble.
    I have always been a supporter of personal safety equipment, being a personal choice, instead of law.
    There have been rumours of making helmets mandatory for kid while sledding this winter. Some arenas are making it mandatory for me to wear a helmet to skate with my kids.

    Personal safety should be a personal choice.

  17. Meg November 5, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    Not to niggle, but if the kids are being hit by SUVs because they are short and the drivers were texting, no amount of reflective vest is going to help that. Being more visible, hardly matters, if the view is blocked completely, and the driver isn’t even looking.

  18. Dave November 5, 2012 at 2:44 pm #

    This is just ridiculous. A child walking with a parent should not have to wear a vest. Just because they are required in Switzerland or Belgium or anyplace else does not make this a good idea. If kids are getting hit by SUVs near a school why make the kids change? Ban SUVs near the school. We are so tied to our cars that we will but our children in danger for the sake of driving them to school in a SUV. We have not drug zones near schools how about no car zones. What makes children safe are not vests but safe streets and streets are safer around schools if there are no cars.

  19. Cyn November 5, 2012 at 3:00 pm #

    An additional comment: I applaud those families from other countries who allow their children to walk to school without an adult present (with a vest or not). However, you cannot tell me that you did not PREPARE them for walking to school and simply relied on a little vest to do your job for you. I am quite sure you didn’t hover over them until they were old enough to go to school, doing everything for them, and then suddenly shove them out of your front door on their first school morning with nothing to protect or guide them other than a little reflective vest. They are raised to actually know how to cope with the world *and* you fully expect older children to step up and help out the younger children. Which, in turn, helps prepare them for being parents themselves.

    I’ve seen children from other countries accomplish far more — and at a much younger age — than the children of helicopter parents here. I know a 25-year-old “child” here who cannot handle *any* unexpected situation (such as a backed-up sink or even a dropped and broken water glass) without falling apart, crying, and calling her parents for help.

  20. Lollipoplover November 5, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

    As a mom with kids that commute by bike or on foot everyday, I try to buy bright outerwear (and with reflective strips) that my kids like to wear. A little one with an adult at their side seems excessive. Can’t they use a rope to stay together? But hey, I guess it’s better than someone pushing a giant stroller.
    I’ve taught my kids when biking to stop, look, and listen at intersections. Always assume that a driver cannot see them (especially one backing out of a driveway). I want them to use crosswalks but not to assume that cars will stop for them. In other words, I want them to think! Slapping on a safety vest and treating them like little dangers instead of instilling early expectations of road safety makes little sense. So when do we allow our little chickies to cross the road?!

  21. Alex R. November 5, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

    Free Range parenting is not about being unsafe, but about taking the time to teach our children how to be situationally aware. We don’t know all of the details in this situation, but if it is a woman who is relying on these vests to do HER job of keeping these children safe, then these vests really only give the ILLUSION of safety.

    Damn straight!

  22. Krista November 5, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

    I agree that it’s the parents’ job to prepare children for life, but what if they are using the vest to cover the gap between starting that particular life lesson and the children actually following it 90% of the time.

    I would use vests on my kids. We live in the Pacific Northwest. In the winter it is gray and rainy. Every little bit of visibility helps, and since we walk a huge amount (we don’t own a car) I see it similar to buckling my kids in car seats.

  23. Hoboken mom November 5, 2012 at 3:27 pm #

    My daughter’s daycare put the kids in vests when they went to the park. Because it was park used by many schools and daycares and allowed the children more freedom to run around because it was easier for the teachers to see their charges in a sea of kids.

  24. Rachel November 5, 2012 at 3:30 pm #

    I live in a town next to Watertown. In that daycare/ school’s defense, I have to echo what someone above mentioned. They were probably walking to a playground and they have the kids all wear the same thing so it is visually easy to make sure to get them all together before the final count to go back to school. I see a lot of schools and daycares do it around here. Also, it’s easier to spot if one of their kids is having an issue on the playground because there are often tons of kids from all different places playing in one spot.

    The helicopter parents who go to the playground and don’t let their kids climb and play by themselves (I’ve literally seen a mom pull her child off something he was climbing while he was screaming that he wanted to climb) and seeing parents on the climbing equipment is WAY MORE problematic in my mind.

  25. Sally November 5, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

    Where was it even implied that the adult was relying on the vests to do HER job? (Oh help me, more cries that parents have some or another kind of job to do.)

    I appreciate the musing going on in this post — are we “dangerizing” normal activity? But it leaves me with a few questions of my own: If the children were on their own and not with an adult, how would the writer feel about the vests? And what does its being “a more hip and urban suburb than mine” have to do with anything?

  26. Captain America November 5, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

    Heck, I’ll just say it. . . isn’t the real problem moms driving SUVs really fast to work while talking on cell phones and listening to music and doing their hair/makeup?

    I see this all the time.

  27. Heath November 5, 2012 at 3:58 pm #

    I am not justifying the vests, but the major difference between “when we were kids” and now is the multitude of distractions we now have. Cell phones, on-board “computers” in cars, etc., are making it harder for people to concentrate on driving and being aware of things around them. That, coupled with the fact that people are getting less used to seeing pedestrians, makes the simple act of walking probably more dangerous that it used to be. This trend will probably not reverse anytime soon.

  28. Linda Wightman November 5, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

    I first saw the vests — and they weren’t really vests, but large, reflective medallions — in Liechtenstein. The point to remember is that there, as in neighboring Switzerland, they serve to encourage children’s independence. Five-year-olds are expected to walk and take public transportation to and from school, and if one gets lost, the identifying medallion can aid a helpful stranger in leading him back to school.

    It’s not the equipment that marks something as free-range friendly or not — it’s why and how we use it.

  29. Michelle November 5, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

    I usually scoff at how much “safety” gear people think they need these days, and I agree with Lenore’s assessment that if you feel like you have to buy a lot of stuff to be able to let your kids do anything, you’re more likely just to not let your kids do anything. I also agree with Cyn that the most important thing is to teach your children to be safe and aware and watch out for distracted drivers. However, I can definitely see a benefit to bright, reflective vests for pedestrians in some situations.

    I live in a nice suburb. My neighborhood is surrounded on all sides by very busy streets (with cars moving at 60mph) with no sidewalks because no one walks anywhere. People drive like maniacs, not paying any attention. Virtually every time I walk to the grocery store, I have an issue with some car. Just the other day my 14yo daughter was crossing the street, in the crosswalk, with the light, when some jerk (who was already stopped at the red light) decided to turn right on red without looking up first. He barely missed her, and in fact did knock her off balance and onto the street. (What really upset me was that not a single person stopped to see if she was ok. Instead, they honked at her to get up and out of the way.)

    I do understand saying that a reflective vest won’t help if the driver doesn’t look at all, but a flash of bright orange in your peripheral vision is more noticeable than black or brown or dark blue. And I do agree that we need to work to make real changes, like getting sidewalks put in, getting the cops (at the police station barely two miles from where this happened) to actually enforce the speed limit, and educating drivers on paying some freaking attention. But that’s going to be a long row to hoe, because currently most people around here consider pedestrians a nuisance, and believe that people should just drive or stay off the roads. In the meantime, I don’t see why pedestrians shouldn’t do whatever they can to protect themselves as much as possible. Much better than not walking.

    Come to think of it, I’m going to recommend reflective vests to my biker friends. They have a real problem with not being seen by other drivers, and I know of TWO bikers who have been hit and killed or seriously injured in the past week alone.

  30. Donna November 5, 2012 at 4:22 pm #

    When my kid went on a field trip in preschool, all the kids were required to wear the same thing too – a red tshirt that said “Kids r Kids” (the name of the school) that was given to them to put on before they left the school. Now in first grade, kids going on field trips are required to wear the school uniform (a tshirt with the school name and shorts) even if not a uniform day. The kids are all perfectly identifiable in a sea of kids and no need for ridiculous caution vests.

    This is dangerizing a normal activity of walking down the sidewalk/street. And, in my opinion, most people are less safe in vests. Most safety devices like this give a false sense of security – I can be less diligent in minding cars because I have a vest so cars can see me. Street workers wear them because they are actually WORKING so not able to keep focused on what is going on and reliant on drivers to see them and avoid them. People walking down the sidewalk, and even the street in the absence of sidewalks, should be watching the cars. They should not be relying on being noticed by cars. In fact, the thing I always want fore-front in my child’s mind when she is out walking is that cars cannot always see her so she needs to keep herself safe.

    Vests are completely ridiculous on sidewalks regardless of age or whether a parent is present. If a driver is so inattentive/drunk/distracted that he goes onto the sidewalk or blows through a crosswalk, do you really think a VEST will change things? I could see some validity if a preschool is taking a field trip that requires walking down a busy road with no sidewalks. I see no reason that preschools should be taking field trips that require them to walk down busy roads without sidewalks. Older kids shouldn’t be on roads without sidewalks if they can’t be trusted to always watch for cars.

  31. Michelle November 5, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

    I agree with Heath that this is a situation that really is different from when we were kids. There was no texting and driving when I was a kid. And there are way fewer pedestrians on the road than there were when I was young. Not only are drivers unused to watching out for people on foot, there seems to be a growing belief that roads are for cars only, and that people should not be walking or riding bikes. I routinely see drivers react with anger to having to accommodate pedestrians. That attitude makes it harder to effect changes that would make walking easier and safer, and like I said, if I am having to walk down the side of a busy street with no sidewalks and distracted drivers, I want to do anything I can to make sure they see me.

  32. Maria November 5, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

    There is nothing excessive about good visibility. If kids’ coats came in bright colors with lots of reflectors, like they do in other countries, where it is state mandated how much surface area of a designated elementary school backpack needs to be covered in reflective material, then silly vests would not be necessary. But most kids’ coats are not as a fact. Sadly. I have often spotted pedestrians on dark roads in dark clothes only last minute and I as a driver am thankful if I can see that person in time and stop for them safely. My daughter has a reflective V-shaped accessory she wears on her walk to Kindergarten. She takes it off in the playground. No one has nagged her. It is good to be safe and seen and there is nothing wrong with that!

  33. Yan Seiner November 5, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

    OK, as an engineer who has done a lot of roadway, ped, etc design, I can tell you that the vast majority of pedestrians overestimate how visible they are. Most peds think they’re visible from as far as 1000 feet away – while wearing a black hoodie at night. So bright clothing in general is a good idea. OTOH safety vests are just plain silly – there’s a lot of neat bright clothing kids can wear that don’t look geeky.

    As a cyclist, yes, I dress up like a christmas tree. I need to be visible – too many places drivers don’t look for bikes, so anything I can do to attract attention is good, as it keeps me alive.

    As someone who goes on construction sites, I wear a hard hat, steel toe boots, and a safety vest, even if there’s no need for them. It’s the habit that’s important – construction site == safety gear.

    A sidewalk, though, is not a construction site. Making kids wear vests, unless those kids are somehow impaired (blind, deaf, etc) is just silly.

  34. Michelle November 5, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

    I don’t see how being aware of the cars around you makes it any less necessary for drivers to be able to see you.

  35. mysticeye November 5, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

    Here it’s gotten completely out of hand in that any adult employee who may be required to leave the building, go in a warehouse, or who knows what else seems to require them.

    That being said I’ve used light up and reflective gear on my kids, not the construction grade ones but more reasonable ones. I also put reflectors on my stroller because there are no sidewalks – bikes are required to have reflectors so why not strollers? Sure I’m not going to be moving as fast but it’s just safer particularly when you’re out in the dusk/dawn a lot.

    You simply can’t expect kids to be as aware of their surroundings as consistently as adults (and even adults fail at this regularly). So make them a bit more visible. Also “when we were kids” the norm was that there were lots of pedestrians, and lots of kids not with taller adults. This is no longer the norm.

    Also, just think of how nice it would be if we could turn down the lights a bit and actually enjoy night-time in the city. If dressing appropriately can make this happen I’m all for it. Light pollution makes me nuts.

    Aside: My husband almost hit a cop because they changed their uniforms to be solid black and we were driving into the sun and the roads were wet and highly reflective. Granted hubby was going a bit fast, but he wasn’t the fastest car on the road by far, did smarten him up though.

    (and I agree, let’s stop assuming people use these safety devices *instead of* proper supervision and/or instruction. Just because “some people” do, doesn’t mean they all do. “Some people” slap a “leash” on a kid and then ignore them, meanwhile others use them because it’s the best solution for the temperament of their child, the parents physical limitations, or the situation and pay just as much attention as always. Using a safety of assistive device doesn’t make you lazy, being lazy makes you lazy)

  36. Donna November 5, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

    I agree that the roads are more dangerous now. How does a vest change this? A person who is texting gets into a wreck because they are looking at a screen and not the road so unless the vest is popping up on the screen, it is useless. Same with putting on makeup or eating. The only drivers who would notice the vest are those who are already watching the road. So, while I can see some use if you’re walking/riding on street at night where reflective strips make you visible from a distance when you would not otherwise be visible, I’m not seeing any benefit to wearing them when you are already perfectly visible but not being seen because people are not paying attention. Getting people to pay attention – laws against texting while driving for example – is the answer, not vests.

  37. Michelle November 5, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

    Donna, because peripheral vision, that’s why. Like I said a minute ago, a flash of bright orange in your peripheral vision is much more noticeable than a darker or more muted color.

  38. Donna November 5, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

    Michelle, then buy a bright colored jacket. Problem solved with no safety vest needed.

    Sadly my kid is usually in pink. If she is not noticed on the road, it is because she is small or the driver is not paying attention. A vest does not make her bigger and a driver who doesn’t see the pink is not somehow more likely to see orange.

  39. Donna November 5, 2012 at 5:03 pm #

    And, if you are catching a flash of orange in your peripheral vision while texting, aren’t you already right up on the person and either hitting them or not already? It is not like peripheral vision extends great lengths.

  40. Sally November 5, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    “then buy a bright colored jacket. Problem solved with no safety vest needed”

    So in principle you agree that brightly colored clothing is a good idea? Then why not a vest that 1) can be thrown over any article of clothing, whereas jacket would be limited to whatever weather it is suited for 2) costs a few bucks, whereas a (winter) jacket usually costs a deal more.

  41. Hermione November 5, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

    Here in Austria, they’ve recently also started giving out safety vests to first-graders (although I don’t think they’re required yet.)

    On the one hand, I can see the point. Yes, visibility is good.
    On the other hand, as a cyclist and driver, I notice how all the neon colours and lights are desensitizing me. I catch myself slipping into the dangerous habit of only looking out for those bright, easy-to-see things, which makes it even easier to miss someone dressed in darker clothes (luckily, that’s only happened when I was riding my bike so far, when it’s easier to react/brake)
    So these safety vests worry me – if they become more common, what about the people who don’t wear them?

  42. Donna November 5, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

    This is not a new problem. The number of distracted drivers and the number of distractions have increased but distracted drivers have always existed. I was always told as a child to wear bright clothes when out and about, especially at night. I just don’t see that vests add anything to that already sage advice that has been going around for decades now. If your child WANTS to wear an orange vest over his black hoodie instead of just wearing a red hoodie, there is nothing wrong with it, but mandating an orange vest regardless of clothing seems like overkill to me.

  43. Tim November 5, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

    “Michelle, then buy a bright colored jacket. Problem solved with no safety vest needed.”

    No offense, but why is insisting that a child wear a brightly colored jacket any different than insisting they wear a safety vest? If the intent of either one is to increase the child’s visibility, why have a problem with either one?

  44. Tim November 5, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

    Sorry, I’m late to the show. Looks like Sally made the same point as I.

  45. Sally November 5, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

    On the contrary Tim, nice to know someone else is on the same wavelength!

  46. Suzanne November 5, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

    I just wanted to chime in about the safety vest requirements in certain countries…. Particularly the nordic ones.

    In many cities kids are walking to school way before sunrise in the winter months, and sometimes even walking home after sunset. The days in the winter are just that short, if you live up north! I remember my mom making sure she bought me a backpack in bright colours and she loved the neon colours that were popular for winter coats in the early 80s :) If it’s pitch dark outside, it really is hard to see anyone wearing darks! It’s just common sense to dress for the time of year, and in the winter months that sometimes means reflectors.

    I do agree that it’s a bit overkill to have the kids in safety vests if they are with an adult already and if it’s light out, but really, no one knows the circumstances. Maybe she was bringing them to play in a large park where the vests were going to be really useful?

  47. Donna November 5, 2012 at 5:41 pm #

    I don’t think wearing an orange vest over dark clothes or a red jacket during the day is going to make a bit of difference. Drivers are either looking out for pedestrians or not. A texting driver isn’t going to see you until s/he looks up from her text regardless of whether you are wearing a black hoodie or neon green hotpants. I know this. I’ve texted while driving in the past and you don’t see a damn thing until you look away from the screen.

    But, the difference is you have to wear clothes. Society frowns on you walking about naked. In buying clothes, you have many choices in colors. If YOU are concerned about visibility, it is as easy to buy a red hoodie as a black one. And you needn’t buy anything extra regardless of the cost of the vest. If YOU are concerned about visibility and your child still insists on buying the black hoodie, slap a vest on him if you wish. My child won’t be joining yours and that is what is great about nit having them mandatory.

  48. Sally November 5, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

    Donny, did this post say anything about making vests manadatory? I’m confused. And hey, thanks for giving us all your permission to buy our children any clothes we want to.

  49. Joy November 5, 2012 at 5:50 pm #

    There is too much snark here. I think the original email was snarky and I regret that Lenore posted it. I am a free range parent, but why does there have to be so much judgmental, holier-than-thou snark? So a woman had 4 pre-schoolers in safety vests? That’s her job or her choice or her necessity because she has bad eyesight. Who knows? But all this conjecturing makes us sound like we are jumping to the most judgmental “worst case scenario” opinion of a woman on the street with 4 young kids. It not a news article on a woman being arrested because her kids were playing in their own yard. It’s all conjecture and judgmental snark.

  50. Donna November 5, 2012 at 6:06 pm #

    Actually Sally MANY people posted about vests being mandatory in other countries as if that was a positive thing. And many others were acting as if a perceived visibility problem is one that can ONLY be solved with bright orange vests.

  51. Sally November 5, 2012 at 6:13 pm #

    Joy, that was the same impression I had when I read this post. But I couldn’t. rise. above. snark. must. do same. Well said and bravo to you for not succumbing.

  52. Jessika November 5, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

    Where I live, sun is now up by 9ish in the morning and down by 4.30. By december there will be less than 4 hours of daylight with the sun barely reaching above the horizon. Reflective wear is about being seen, not about what kinds of assertions can be made about motives and/or perceptions of safety by parents/adults/drivers/cyclists/children.
    Most children here walk to school. There are bike paths and sidewalks where there’s not enough street lights. You need plenty of reflexes to be seen under those conditions. Most childrens outerwear (for winter) comes with reflexective bands sewn onto them already.

    I missed the point where one assumes that a vest does away with recognising threats in the environment. A child should, of course, know not to run right into traffic, vest or no vest, ,just as a driver should practice general safe driving.

    But to me, this kind of reflective gear is about visibility.
    And sorry for being a european coming to read and comment.

  53. ifsogirl November 5, 2012 at 6:44 pm #

    I don’t like these safety vests, probably for a reason most people won’t think of. Instead of teaching children to make eye contact with the drivers before crossing the street (this is how my school taught walking saftey when I was in Kindergarten) it teaches them that with the vest on they are safe. I buy coats for my kids in bright colours that come with reflective strips on them. They look like a normal child and don’t expect everyone else to be watching for them.

  54. Amanda Matthews November 5, 2012 at 7:02 pm #

    I think the solution is to get drivers LOOKING OUT FOR PEOPLE, and people looking out for drivers. I sometimes walk to the library right around school pick up time and cross an entrance to a school parking lot, and I have yet to see anyone actually LOOKING OUT for kids before turning in. They just turn in without pausing to look, sometimes with no turn signal, and sometimes they are looking at their phone. What’s worse is that it doesn’t even look like the parking lot entrance. I only know it is because of seeing people turn in there. It really looks like part of the sidewalk. So even a kid trained to look out before crossing anything that cars my drive through, could get hit thinking they are just walking on the sidewalk. I can understand not caring about other peoples’ kids, but you’d think at the very least, at their own kids’ school, they would look out.

    It seems that many people have the attitude of “I’m so important that I don’t have to look out for YOU – you have to look out for ME.” And the problem is, both drivers and pedestrians have this attitude. And I don’t even mean while walking to school. I have had a kid on a bike jump out in the street front of my car, as his mom walked next to him, and said nothing; kids playing in their yards just run out in the street for no reason whatsoever, as their parents sit there saying nothing; people walking smack dab in the middle of the street, not watching for cars, not moving over when a car comes; cars jumping in front of my car to jump across FOUR LANES to turn into McDonalds; cars pulling out of their driveway without looking to see if there were any cars coming in the street; cars turning right when I have a walk signal; etc. etc. etc.

    A neon vest, even a reflective one, is not going to help unless people are LOOKING where they are driving. I don’t need a neon vest to see a kid in or even near the street when I am driving, as long as I am looking. If anyone does, they should probably be rethinking the fact that they are driving at all.

  55. Omri November 5, 2012 at 7:07 pm #

    For once I side with the parents. Out in the ‘burbs, the biggest kiddie killer is bad drivers. And it is a big killer. High visibility vests reduce that danger.

  56. hineata November 5, 2012 at 7:07 pm #

    @ Donna, if we’re talking about schools/kindys putting kids in safety vests so they can be easily identified on the street/at the park etc, I would put my schoolies in these rather than t-shirts because you can often score these kinds of things as freebies, whereas a t-shirt costs money. Simple economics.

  57. blablabirdie November 5, 2012 at 7:21 pm #

    My son’s preschool has these vests and I am fine with it. Where we live, Sweden, freerange is how things are done. Our neighbors let their 4 year olds play alone at the playground in our courtyard (you can see it from kitchen windows) My oldest is only 3 so hasn’t played alone yet, but will soon.

    But when they go on class trips or walks they wear bright yellow vests. This is to do quick headcounts and keep track of large groups of kids easily. Its also to spot who belongs to the group and who doesn’t without doing a visual check on every kid.

  58. tina November 5, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

    Statistically speaking (and pure common sense) shows that pedestrians are better spotted by drivers when wearing bright clothing. That’s just fact and insisting that either a driver will see you or not is just ignorant. Of course drunk drivers are a different situation, but sober drivers have a better chance of seeing you if you are in bright clothing. Now if I had charge of a small group of 3/4 year olds in a in home daycare/preschool setting (which sounds like this very well could have been since quadruplets are rarer than an in home daycare) and wanted to walk them to the park or zoo along a busy road, possibly having to cross a coupe of times, it would be easier for me to get a few bright vests to stick them in rather than insisting every parent goes out and buys them brightly colored jackets. (Kind of pushy and none of my business what color jackets parent want to dress their kids in.) But when they are with me, they are my responsibility and it’s not like these vests do any harm or are expensive – I did a quick google search and it looks like you can get one from Walmart for $6. And like other posters have stated, it makes it easier to keep track of all of them when it’s time to go.

  59. Kari November 5, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

    I’m free range parent after all I let my kids walk on ice, be outside in the rain. I even let them nap outside, we bike in the rain and in the dark. But one thing I will always make sure is that my kids and my self will be wearing safety reflectors or a safety west. I wish this thinking would be more normal in North America,in Finland it is the law to wear a safety reflectors at night. It is not being helicopter parent it can safe your life. http://www.activekidsclub.com/safety-reflectors/safety-reflectors/safety-reflectors.html
    Safety Reflectors | Safety Reflectors

  60. Katie November 5, 2012 at 7:47 pm #

    Honestly I also don’t have a problem with kids in safety vests. Dare I say I even have a safety vest for myself for use at night. I guess I feel it is just an easy thing to do. I guess what I see as really messed up is the parents who drive giant tanks 2 blocks to take their kids to school and look horrified if anyone mentions the word bike or walk.

    I also have to give props to Marcy and Dave for their great comments. I agree time to ban SUVs from school zones. I tell you some of these parents they sure are crazy helicopter parents when it comes to their own kids, but when it comes to running over your or someone elses kid because they are texting while driving their giant oversized tank they have could care less about that.

  61. Warren November 5, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

    Take it from a guy that works on the side of a highway at all hours of the day, changing truck tires. I wear the required reflective gear, my truck is white, with reflective tape on it, fourways flashing, two amber beacon lights flashing, flares leading up to the scene, and it does no damn good. People become idiots behind the wheel of a vehicle at 70mph.
    My truck has been sideswiped twice, and totalled once. How many police officers are killed or hurt, while doing traffic stops? And between them, and their vehicle they are lit up like a Christmas tree.
    The problem isn’t being seen. The problem is people do not give the proper amount of responsibility to driving.
    To dress kids in safety gear of any sorts, to walk to the park, in the middle of the day is ridiculous. You are telling them that they are in danger, at all times. Wrong message to send them.

  62. Heather November 5, 2012 at 8:38 pm #

    We have no idea why this particular woman put the kids in reflective vests. I’d guess she was taking a group out and wanted to be able to spot them easily. Those vests are fairly flexible on sizing, so she wouldn’t need a whole bunch of them if she is a carer dealing with a changing group of kids. But she might as easily be someone from a country where free-range practices are normal, and so are reflective clothing. America does have a lot of different subcultures.

    My son always has a bright coloured jacket because even with just one, it’s much easier to spot him in the playground when he has something bright on. And in winter, he has reflective strips, because we walk along very dark roads to get home, and while I do not expect there to be a problem, I like knowing he is easy to see in the gloom, because the roads may not be that busy, but every single one has parked cars all down both sides, and no crossings.

    We are still walking home, and he is only 3. Reflective clothing and free-range are not incompatible.

    H

  63. Paula November 5, 2012 at 8:39 pm #

    When I was 22 I rode to work one day wearing a high vis top for the first time. What happened I got run over by a car and never wore it again!!!!!!!!

  64. jeff November 5, 2012 at 8:44 pm #

    I see like this. Will wearing a seatbelt guarantee your are not injured/killed in a car accident? Nope. But it does lessen your chances. Do I think all pedestrians should be required to wear safety vests? Nope. I think that infringes on people’s freedoms. (I am actually pro seatbelts, but anti laws requiring me to wear one.) However, for high risk pedestrians – like small children – it makes sense that since they already have their height and lack of judgement going against them, to give them an extra boost of bright color to increase the odds they will be seen. Especially in a group setting like this particular case sounded like. Should it be required? No. But should a caregiver have the option of doing it without everyone trying to sound superior and judging her for it? Absolutely. I completely agree with you, Warren, that people can be idiots and not look. However, in all the incidents you have had, I wonder how many more incidents you would have had if you hadn’t been wearing bright stuff?

  65. Cheryl November 5, 2012 at 8:51 pm #

    I actually think that a safety vest PROMOTES free range parenting. I, too, live up north with my kids commuting independently to/from school and extracurricular activities in the dark. It doesn’t make them immune to bad drivers, but it sure can’t hurt to make them more visible. Why all the hassle about it? It’s an easy & inexpensive way to hopefully bump up their safety.

  66. Sally November 5, 2012 at 8:54 pm #

    Warren, basically you just informed us that, actually, one is in danger at all times around motorists. But then said alerting children to that would be the “wrong message”.

    I’m just not understanding the argument that drivers need to take more care. End of. I mean who doesn’t agree with that?? But we seem to all agree that is just not the case (see Warren’s stories above) nor will it be anytime soon, and it may even be getting worse. So let walkers take any help they can get. Nothing will help when someone isn’t paying attention. Well, okay. But an alert driver will see the pedestrian on a darkened street from a long way away. And slow down. I’m happy about that.

    I have a sneaking suspicion that those who are so anti vest don’t do much walking “for purpose” themselves. Even the writer of the original post was “driving past”. Lots of assumptions about little jaunts to playgrounds along some footpaths or similar, where vests would just be some silly extra frill.

    Normally if you’re walking to get somewhere, you don’t remain on the sidewalk the whole time. You have to cross streets and intersections. If you do a lot of walking you will probably find yourself doing so during hours when there is not a lot of day light and, depending on the area, maybe without much street lighting. Another factor is whether or not the motorists are expecting pedestrians. In NYC — of course! The suburbs, maybe not. A vest might be helpful.

    Nothing was said about the time of day in the OP. But like someone else pointed out, this post is all conjecture anyway.

  67. Mark November 5, 2012 at 9:03 pm #

    My daily commute takes me through an area with a large number of pedestrians and bicyclists and poor seeing conditions.

    My experience is that after sunset, dark colors (and “dark” is anything that isn’t white, yellow, or neon whatever) are visible out to about 50 feet, if I’m lucky. Bright colors are visible to 100 feet or so. Large reflective patches and stripes are visible at around a quarter-mile.

    I wish more pedestrians would realize how invisible they are at night, and would wear bright or reflective clothing.

  68. Amanda Matthews November 5, 2012 at 9:07 pm #

    First I will say that I do not believe people are looking and just not seeing kids, because I SEE people not looking all the time. I look at their faces and see that their eyes are not on the road, not on the intersection they are about to turn into; but instead on a cellphone, on a mirror, on their purse in their lap, on a book helping their kid with their homework (yes I actually saw that the other day!).

    But if people ARE looking but need a vest to see children better (well as I said, they should be rethinking driving, but anyway) a problem I could see with the vests, is that they could train drivers to look for the vests, and if they don’t see them, assume it’s okay to keep going.

    For example, many people think nothing of continuing to drive when a squirrel or etc. is in the street. Even though they see it they think “it’s a squirrel” and not stop. If they noticed a DOG in the street though, they would not keep going. So if a small dog that is the same color of a squirrel is in the street, they may think it is a squirrel and keep going.

    I’m thinking that if they assume all children are wearing these vests, then when they see some blur on the street on a day with bad weather, they will assume it is just some trick of the eye or something, since they don’t see a vest, and keep going.

    I would like to see the statistics of children being hit while not wearing the vests in places where the vests are a common requirement, vs the number of kids being hit while wearing the vests, vs kids of similar size being hit in countries where there are no vests…

  69. Warren November 5, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

    Sorry Sally, you missed the point. Dressing ourselves up in all sorts of protective gear, to protect ourselves against alert, responsible drivers, is the ridiculous thing.
    What I was saying is that the idiots on the road, that we are attempting to protect ourselves against, are the ones that won’t even notice a safety vest.
    And I do alot of walking, with three dogs, you do alot of walking.
    This is another case of going overboard, to accomodate worst-first thinking. The safety vests in this case, only give the person issuing the sense of “I have done everything”.
    Sort of like background checks.
    There is probably a higher risk of falling and skinning a knee, during the walk, than being hit by a car. Do we make them all wear knee pads to?

  70. Earth.W November 5, 2012 at 9:31 pm #

    I’m thinking of sending mine to school naked. Nobody will miss them then. They’ll stand right out. 😉

  71. Earth.W November 5, 2012 at 9:39 pm #

    While driving through somewhere near Rockdale yesterday, I saw a woman walking half a dozen dogs on leashes. Sorry, I mean, half a dozen children on leashes. Seriously, all those leashes I was expecting to see dogs. LOL

  72. Sally November 5, 2012 at 9:44 pm #

    ” a problem I could see with the vests, is that they could train drivers to look for the vests, and if they don’t see them, assume it’s okay to keep going”.

    Hey ho, talk about “What If” thinking.

    No Warren, as you pointed out, there’s probably no hope for protecting oneself from an “idiot”, I would hope to alert drivers like Mark to my presence as a pedestrian. And, just like Mark, as a driver I’ve had the experience of noticing what poor visibility there is on a darkened street and wished that the non-motorists were easier to see. Reflective gear helps.

    Regarding your skinned knee probability argument: There must be some kind of argument thingy for the probability (skinned knee) versus the risk (crushed skull). One is more likely, but not very dangerous, one is not likely, but very dangerous. What can I say? If the low probability of your getting your skull crushed is enough for you to find peace of mind, well then. For myself I will not bother to protect for the higher probability of the skinned knee, but will so, with little inconvenience to myself I may add (doesn’t take much to buckle a seat belt for example), to prevent the crushed skull.

  73. Amanda Matthews November 5, 2012 at 9:49 pm #

    There’s no problem with “What if” thinking, until you let that thinking set the rules and/or run your life. Now if I were saying “we should ban the vests because what if…” that would be different. But my belief is that people AREN’T looking, so that what if situation isn’t going to change anything for me.

  74. Krista November 5, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

    Once again we’re making assumptions about another person’s choices in their unique case. What happened to trusting people to make the best choice they can for their children (familial or otherwise)?

    And saying that, “Well, drivers should drive better so vest are unneeded,” is not helping. A lot of drivers drive like crap. I’m I really going to be so principled that I can’t take a safety precaution because someone else should be better?

    Also, I don’t think anyone on here is saying “Vests for everyone, all the time.” They should be used judiciously, like with bikers, low light, or little darting children that always seem to squirm out of your clutch. I could see how something bright would be very useful in those cases.

  75. Maegan November 5, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    Depending on the situation/location, this may be a good idea. But I do see one problem: Teaching kids that they don’t have to worry about or look for cars. Careful street crossing is a skill that can be taught at a young age. You can’t dart out in front of cars. But you can tell when they can see you by the way the car stops or the way the driver is watching you. You can inch out into the street to show drivers that you are there, without risking your safety. And you can choose the safest places to cross. Not all kids will simply ignore basic safety precautions because of the bright vest, but it could make some kids think that they are invincible, and that drivers can see them even when they run out in front of them or when a car is going too fast to stop. Nothing can replace understanding and reading cars and drivers.

  76. Warren November 5, 2012 at 10:30 pm #

    The question we should really be asking, is how long before someone sees this exact seen, and with nothing better to do with their time, starts the wheels rolling, and these vests become mandatory, by either school boards or lawmakers?
    You know it will happen. Just like certain areas, facilities, and jurisdictions have mandated safety equipment.

    This reminds me of the mandatory cage on batting helmets, for my kids league. It was something one parent, that never played softball, decided she wanted for her kid. Then became mandatory for all. We, my daughter and I fought it, and won.
    The mother asked me, rather righteously, if I wanted my daughter to take a pitch in the face?
    I told her no, but I do want her to learn how to duck.

  77. Warren November 5, 2012 at 10:31 pm #

    oops,, scene not seen.

  78. Krista November 5, 2012 at 11:02 pm #

    I think it’s quite a leap to believe that because parents may put a safety vest on their children they won’t teach the little ones how to look out for cars. If we use bike helmets on our kids does that mean we don’t teach our kids how to ride their bike safely?

  79. JJ November 5, 2012 at 11:17 pm #

    I really like the idea of Free Range Kids but honestly, the sanctimoniousness of so many of the posts here is staggering. Talk about first-worst thinking (whether it is a reason for asking students to be prepared for an emergency, the reason for putting a kid in a vest, the reason that someone might call 911). A little self-awareness would go a long way here.

  80. paranoia destroys ya November 5, 2012 at 11:48 pm #

    I just picked up a replacement safety vest for myself as a secondary backup not an excuse to not watch out. Rather than trying to be safe, it is better to be aware of your surroundings. Notice both the hazards and not see danger when there isn’t.

    I get drivers cutting me off claiming they didn’t see me. How did they pass a driver’s test if they can’t see neon and reflective clothing? Children being smaller are less likely to be spotted by inattentive drivers.

  81. Kimberly November 6, 2012 at 2:14 am #

    I agree with the posters saying not a big deal to good idea. Maybe this person’s schedule means she is walking with the kids at dawn or dusk, and she finds it easier to have the “we wear our vest every time we go for a walk” that to explain why you wear them at 6 am but not at 10 am. It isn’t like preschooler and logic mesh well.

    When I lived in Sugar Land we had the ghost jogger. He had outlined his shirts, shorts, and shoes with reflective tape. You would see this outline of a a shirt and shorts hovering over the shoes long before you could see him – and he wore light colored clothing. I really prefer him to the the guy in my current neighborhood who wears black to jog at 5:20 am.

    I have friends that live in rural areas with deer hunting. Their kids wear hunter’s orange anytime they are in the yard during season. They also wear them walking to and from school.

  82. Peter November 6, 2012 at 3:57 am #

    I think Kimberly pegged it. It really depends on the situation. There are times when it’s a good idea. There are times when it’s just plain silly.

    For example, if your kid is walking to school during times of low visibility along streets with no sidewalks, something reflective would be a good idea. On the other hand, if you’re walking on the sidewalk at high noon on a clear and sunny day, it’s kind of silly.

    Where I get a bit grumpy, I suppose, would be that the vest is somehow a cloak of invulnerability–that as long as my kid is wearing his reflective vest, he’ll be fine. Sorry, but no. You still have to teach your kid to look both ways before crossing. You still need to remind your kid to look left, then right, and then left again before stepping into the street. You still need to teach them that if a car is coming, don’t step into the street–even if they think they can make it.

  83. Angel November 6, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    My husband has been getting our 4 year old on the bus at 7am when the sun isn’t up yet. We live out in the country and he has him put on his farm(hi-vis) vest to wait for the bus. This allows the bus driver to see him at the end of the driveway and know that he is there. Yes the bus would stop without him wearing the vest but it allows the few neighbors that drive by to know that he is there also. this is my son’s first year of school so neighbors aren’t used to a kid at the end of our dirveway. My husband takes the vest off when my son gets on the bus just so it doesn’t get lost at school. The bus driver appreciates the vest.

    Being on a farm during planting and picking anyone that is outside wears a vest. My son, husband, brother-in-law, nephew and myself. We have ones that will just pull on over our coats. It makes everyone visible around the tractors that are moving in and out of the yards.

  84. Amanda Matthews November 6, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

    @Krista yes actually. The kids I see riding their bike into the street without looking (sometimes as their mother walks next to them saying nothing) are always wearing helmets. The kids I see without helmets are always riding safely. Of course this is anecdotal but it DOES seem to me that once a parent takes a few safety precautions, they feel like they have done all they need to do so now YOU need to look out for THEM (the kids) and they don’t have to look out anymore.

  85. Krista November 6, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

    Amanda, that doesn’t mean that the safety features makes it so that a person HAS to act irresponsibly. If that was true it would be safer to have no seat belts in cars.

  86. Amanda Matthews November 6, 2012 at 6:56 pm #

    I’m not saying it HAS to, just that it is often the case.

  87. Krista November 6, 2012 at 9:47 pm #

    It’s the case in your experience, in your part of the world, with your bias. It’s not the same everywhere.

  88. Coccinelle November 7, 2012 at 12:20 am #

    @ It’s the case in your experience, in your part of the world, with your bias. It’s not the same everywhere

    So true! While reading all the comments here, I realized that my opinion on the matter is clearly based on many factors that change depending on where you live.

    Personally, I’ve never relied on the fact that I was seen by a driver except when I see them looking at me. And I wouldn’t want to do it either so I really don’t see the appeal of these vests. Even if I live up North. When you are cycling in the dark, now I understand because you are basically sharing the road with the cars, but as a pedestrian? Not for me.

  89. Taradlion November 7, 2012 at 1:02 am #

    I’m late to post on this one.

    I will say, often when topic is raised here about some safety item (vests, child leashes, kid name/address tattoos, juice box anti-squirt holders, strollers at Disney) and there is an implication that it is unnecessary/anti-free range, all the self proclaimed free range parents that find said item useful become defensive. (I know I did when it was implied that I am anti free range for carrying a mini first aid kit)….I can justify it…I don’t need to.

    There often are GOOD reasons for SOME people to use these items.Reasons that don’t make parents helicopter parents, and in some cases increase free ranging…it is when it is suggested that these things are ALWAYS a good idea and should be used in ALL situations that is overkill.

    If you are walking down a windy road before dawn in the country, wear a vest. Am I tossing caution to the wind if I don’t put one on my kids as they walk down the sidewalk in NYC in the middle of the day? If a parent chooses to use a safety tat (name/phone number) for their non verbal child with special needs at Disney, that does not make them a helicopter parent, but should I use one on my kids when we shop at target?

    Same with baby proofing stuff and things intended to support kids with special needs. Not every parent or every kid needs this stuff. Stuff meant to keep a baby safe shouldn’t be used into early elementary school. Safety items intended to reduce risk in risky situations should not become required gear under all circumstances (safety harness for kids learning to walk?)

  90. EmmyB November 7, 2012 at 1:57 am #

    My children (7 and 4) cycle a few blocks with us to school. Our rule is that if they’re on the road, they have to be wearing their hi-vis vests. If not, they’re relegated to riding on the sidewalk (which is legal with bikes that small here). It’s not a replacement for learning how to ride properly and follow the rules on the roads, but it’s consistent with what my husband and I do on our cycle commutes in our own hi-vis gear. I’ve always said that my fluorescent yellow jacket probably won’t stop some idiot from running me over. But at least said idiot shouldn’t be able to claim that he hasn’t seen me.

  91. Katrin from Frankfurt November 7, 2012 at 10:04 am #

    Here in Germany those vests are not required for school kids or bikers but I think they are very useful, especially in the winter months when you leave home and sometimes also come home again in the darkness.
    Currently the local police has a programm especially for bikers “Make yourself visible”. On the one hand they control bikers especially regarding the function of the spotlights, on the other hand they hand out highly visible ribbons which can be wrapped around your arm. I think this is a good programm, because when I drove home by car one evening I realized quite late that these shadows on my lane were two bikers. Neither of them had the spotlights of their bikes turned on, nor did they wear bright clothing.

  92. Emily November 7, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

    A couple of weeks ago I read there was a post where another blogger made some assumptions that a lost child on a beach must have been free-range. This post, is the same thing on the opposite side.

    There are so many reasons the adult could have been using the vest but assumptions were made. The most annoying assumption is that it was done instead of teaching kids safety instead of being used WHILE teaching safety.

    My mother is visually impaired and still really enjoys spending time with and caring for my sons. I’ve been looking for a solution to making her feel more comfortable when she’s caring for them. I think I’ve found it.

    Reflective clothing in the dark or in gray weather just makes sense, even with sidewalks and such.

  93. Warren November 8, 2012 at 2:52 am #

    Hello, anyone home. You are missing the point, and comparing apples to oranges.
    Yes when it is dark, wear the vests.

    But walking on the sidewalk, in the middle of the day
    DOES NOT REQUIRE SAFETY EQUIPMENT!!!!!

  94. Krista November 8, 2012 at 3:21 am #

    Warren, true. But there are those saying that vests shouldn’t be worn, period, and pedestrians should just watch out. Others (like myself) are trying to point out when it may be appropriate to wear vests (lack of sidewalks, dusk, watching many kids at the playground, road work, etc.).

  95. Amanda Matthews November 8, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

    “It’s the case in your experience, in your part of the world, with your bias. It’s not the same everywhere.”

    True this is just my experience, but I have lived in a large variety of places. The place I live now (a suburb) people are actually BETTER at looking out for pedestrians and cars than the major cities I have lived in within in the US, though they are still horrible at it. In Asia they seem to watch out for pedestrians much more, I’m guessing because they are more common, but pedestrians look out for cars less.

    And OF COURSE I’m going to live my life according to what goes on around me in my life. If I was in a place were people were looking their hardest but just couldn’t see pedestrians without reflective vests, then I would think the vests are a good idea. But as I don’t live in a place like that, it would be silly to live my life as if I did.

  96. Warren November 9, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    @ Krista,

    How does watching many kids at the park require safety vests? These PERSONAL PROTECTIVE GEAR are meant for just that personal protection. We should not be telling our kids that everyday activities, walking during the day, playing in the park, or the like means they need to be wearing PERSONAL PROTECTIVE GEAR.

    These were designed and made for workers in HIGH RISK

  97. Sam November 9, 2012 at 8:13 pm #

    Warren, I don’t know if you’ve ever run an in home day care, but if you take lots of little ones to the park, having them all dress similar is an easy way to keep track of them. Is it necessary? No. Can you buy them all matching T-Shirts? Of course. But kids grow and some leave and new ones come, so from an economical point of view, these vests are dirt cheap – a lot of times you can get them free – and they fit multiple sizes and will go over coats in colder weather. So it would be an easy, creative way to keep track of a group of kids.

  98. Jenne November 9, 2012 at 8:49 pm #

    I’m totally late to this party, but isn’t anyone else more concerned about the kids with their phone numbers & schools all over their neon shirts for anyone to make a note of?

    Not that they would get all that close, what with schools telling you to slam the door in the face of the parent behind you and all, the fingerprinting required to pick up your child, and the other security measures in place that are going to make our schools look like Q’s lab at MI6 shortly….

    Field trip day – everyone has to wear a red or orange shirt. Seriously? If you have to have these kids dress like that to keep track of them on a field trip, you need more parent chaperones. If they can pass the drug test . . .

  99. Warren November 9, 2012 at 8:54 pm #

    You know, do what ya want. My kids know when personal protective gear and equipment is warranted, and when it is not. They know that playing in the park, walking during the day, playing with their friends, and so on is just fine to do, with the only protection needed is your own common sense, with reflexes as emergency back up.

  100. Warren November 9, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

    BTW……there are the niftiest steel toe runners for kids. Should add that to the list, to prevent incidents of adults steeping on their little toes, or being run over by a bike, or stroller. Disposable latex, barring a latex allergy, the go nitrile, gloves, prevents germs and bacteria.

  101. Emily November 11, 2012 at 12:15 am #

    @Jenne–the kids in the matching neon T-shirts with the emergency phone numbers written on them weren’t a school group; I saw various day camps at the waterfront over the summer that had their kids dress that way. However, I agree–it’s insane, especially when they don’t even let the kids take off their shirts to go swimming.

  102. Emily November 19, 2012 at 2:06 am #

    I’ve had two incidents lately that make me wonder what time of day this was. I was turning a corner after picking my boys up from school (when I come from work, I have to drive or else I won’t get there anything close to on time) and there were kids in the cross walk that I couldn’t see because of the angle of the sun. A few days later, this time in the morning, but the sun at about the same level, I couldn’t see a large man and his son walking across a parking lot.
    Now, I’m not sure that reflective wear would have solved the problem, but if it would the scenario in the original post makes total sense.