Why you should wear a reflector in Estonia

Source: ExtraWize

Why you should wear a reflector in Estonia

The Estonians know a little secret for staying safe and visible during dark winter days. It's small, simple, and inspired by a cat's eyes. Find out why you should be sporting a reflector while visiting Estonia.

Staying visible in the dark

Estonia is located pretty far north; Tallinn sits at the same latitude as Stockholm, Oslo, and Juneau, Alaska. The days are short in the winter — a mere six hours on the Winter Solstice in December. The early sunsets, however, do not stop people from going about their business and enjoying recreation. Tourists can enjoy the special things Estonia's dark nights have to offer, such as the opportunity to glimpse the Northern Lights.

When venturing out in the dark in Estonia, take a cue from the locals and wear a reflector. This small piece of plastic or fabric makes pedestrians visible to oncoming traffic. The concept was first invented in 1934 by British road worker Percy Shaw, inspired by the reflective qualities of cats' eyes. Virtually all children and over two-thirds of adults wear reflectors, largely due to a 2011 law requiring their use in darkness and conditions of poor visibility.

A spark in the night

Helkur (reflector) comes from the Estonian verb "to sparkle" or "shimmer".

Photo by: Lembit Michelson

A stylish — and mandatory — accessory

A reflector protects its wearer in the dark. However, keep in mind that not all reflector-like items are functional reflectors. Only certified reflectors that comply with regulations protect you in the dark and make you visible. Car drivers and other road users can see you on dark Estonian nights only if:

  • the manufacturer has labeled the product as a reflector (not a reflective accessory),
  • the label of the reflector includes a reference to the standard CE EN 13356,
  • the reflective surface of the reflector is at least 15 cm2 in size.

In order to ensure that a reflector that meets the aforementioned criteria can protect you to the fullest, attach it to your coat or jacket (the side facing the road) so that the reflector is at a 50–80 cm height from the ground.

A reflector can still be stylish!

Photo by: ExtraWize

Wearing a reflector in the dark is mandatory in Estonia; however, you should also make it a habit while traveling abroad, as a reflector ensures that you are visible regardless of where you are in the world. A reflector is a useful and necessary gift to all those who love running, cycling, hiking, and other outdoor activities, as well as to children.

Check out some Estonian reflector designs: KrentuKuKuJuKu Helku, Helk, Krentu, Extrawize, and Dark Aid

Last updated : 27.11.2023

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