Well, well, well.
If you’ve read the comments on my last post, you will now be aware that the “dangly bits” I’ve been seeing everywhere are reflectors.
Intrigued, and armed with my fresh knowledge, I did a bit of research using “reflectors” and “Tallinn” as my search terms, and discovered a site telling me that not wearing one of these things is against the law!
During periods of darkness, (roughly October through April), reflectors must be worn by pedestrians. Violators of this law may be subject to a fine of up to 600 EEK (Estonian Kroon), or up to 6,000 EEK if the pedestrian is under the influence of alcohol. Reflectors are inexpensive and are available at most supermarkets and many smaller shops. To meet legal requirements, the reflector’s packaging must include a reference to European safety standard EN13356.
The Estonian Justiitsministeerium even has a whole page on its site set up to explain the dangers of stepping outside in this light-deprived country without your reflector, and provides specific instructions about the correct type of reflector to buy, how to attach it to your clothing, and exactly where on the body it should ‘dangle’ (around knee-level, in case you’re interested – presumably so that it catches the light from car headlights). It seems that this is all actually quite a big deal. And of course, the most important thing to note is that I could have been fined 600EEK had I been caught wandering around without one in the dark – and remember, “the dark” is pretty much “October through April” here, as opposed to, say, 4pm-7am.
Well, no – actually, the most important thing is that I could be killed by one of those scary drivers. I’m not a goth, but I do wear black quite a lot, and I’m not very good at crossing the road at the best of times. Darkness just adds to the likelihood that I’ll be squished under the wheels of a passing takso. That would not be nice. But neither would the 600EEK fine.
As I strolled home from the shops, my cat dangling proudly from my coat and fluttering around in the breeze, I finally felt like part of the crowd, rather than a foreigner becoming increasingly confused and flustered by the presence of “all those weird dangly things”. I am in the know. Hurrah!
A commenter kindly left links to some ads on the subject, and I must say that I really do enjoy these two. According to Oliver, the line at the end means “You don’t forget your pants, so why forget your reflector?”.
Government campaigns are always entertaining, I feel…
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