The Illinois Traffic Crash Report (see scan below) has a field in the upper left titled “PEDV” which means “Pedalcyclist or pedestrian visibility.”
The possible entries for this field are the following codes*:
- No contrasting clothing
- Contrasting clothing
- Reflective material
- Other light source used
For my crash report, the police officer noted “1 – No contrasting clothing.” I don’t remember what I was wearing that night, so I can’t dispute that. I didn’t have lighting required by state law. I don’t know if the police officer would mark “4 – Other light source used” if I did. I’m not aware of what kind of guidance the report or data dictionary offers the police officer filling out the report; how is “contrasting clothing” defined?
Wearing contrasting clothing is not required by law. Using a headlight while bicycling at “nighttime” is. The light will be more effective than any kind of clothing in increasing the visibility of the bicyclist.
The crash report should note the bicyclist’s compliance with state law, not whether or not their clothing choice may have been a contributing factor in the crash (which the presence of this code on the report implies). I took the photo below last night when I was wearing a black jacket and gray jeans. It doesn’t appear very contrasting – but I was in compliant with state and city laws about lighting at night.
My clothes may blend into the night, by my blinking light surely doesn’t.
Collecting information on lighting law compliance could help cities and police better plan education and enforcement initiatives. It can give us information on crashes that we wouldn’t otherwise have, like how many crashes involved cyclists who didn’t have the required lights. Or where a lot of crashes occur even though a high percentage of cyclists involved there had sufficient lighting.
Illinois cyclists had a big win with the inclusion of doorings in state-provided crash reports. I think the next change should be to record information on compliance with lighting laws. If you need a good light, try this one from Planet Bike.
*This information comes from the “2004-present person codes” data dictionary from the Illinois Department of Transportation.