CARIBOU, Maine — During the summer and early fall, fitness enthusiasts have few constraints when hitting the streets for a run or walk after they get out of work.
But when November comes, it’s already dark hours before some employees are ready to clock out for the day. Still wanting to exercise, many take to the streets despite the lack of desirable light.
That activity has contributed to several accidents, officials at the Caribou Police Department said earlier this week. Now, in an effort to reduce accidents and save pedestrian lives, the Caribou Police Department has initiated a safety program educating runners, joggers and walkers on pedestrian safety.
The Police Department has teamed with the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety to implement the “Reflect While You Walk” program. Under the initiative, the department will hand out reflective safety vests to interested pedestrians.
Caribou Police Chief Michael Gahagan pointed out that it is not unusual to see as many as 25 to 30 people out walking in the evening during the winter. Even more are out on warm summer nights.
Several areas in the city do not have sidewalks, forcing pedestrians into the streets. In addition, during the winter months, Gahagan said, pedestrians tend to walk or run in the roadways, as the sidewalks themselves are icy and snow-covered.
Many areas are poorly lit and pedestrians are not easily seen by drivers operating on the roads. Police pointed out that it’s easy for a driver to get distracted or not see someone and accidentally strike them. Several times in the past, people have been struck while out walking or jogging.
The department is passing out vests as part of the initiative and will be giving talks at Cary Medical Center, health fairs and recreation departments, as well as to local running groups.
Reflective safety vests can be picked up anytime at the Caribou Police Department or at local health fairs.
Officers will be passing out vests and answering questions at the 29th annual Cary Health Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15.