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 whenever you are in Estonia.

Darkness inspired invention

Estonia is located quite north in the world; Tallinn sits at the same latitude as Stockholm, Oslo, and Juneau, Alaska. In the winter, the days are short - 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 as well can enjoy the special things the dark nights have to offer, such as possibilities to glimpse the Aurora Borealis.

A spark in the night

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

Photo by: Lembit Michelson

When venturing out in the dark in Estonia, take a cue from the locals and wear a reflector. It is a small piece of plastic or fabric that makes pedestrians visible to oncoming traffic. The concept was first invented in 1934 by British road worker Percy Shaw, who was 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 that requires their use in darkness and conditions of poor visibility.

A stylish and practical detail

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 provide protection in the dark and make you visible. Car drivers and other road users can see you in dark Estonian nights only if:

  • the manufacturer has labelled 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 travelling 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.

For some Estonian reflector designs, check out: KrentuKuKuJuKu Helku, Helk, Willow, Extrawize and Dark Aid

Last updated : 18.01.2019
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