Oakdale company aims to keep kids safe with reflective strips

Reflective material can be applied to items children already wear to school, helping them be seen more easily by motorists. Halloween presents an opportunity for parents to get creative with how they incorporate reflective material on their children’s clothes. Submitted photos

As summer comes to a close and excitement builds for the coming school year, parents and children are making back-to-school shopping lists and planning their trips to the store. In addition to the No. 2 pencils, colorful cardboard folders and wide ruled notebook paper, a new product may be worth adding to this year’s shopping list: reflective strips.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s most recent available data, 5,376 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in 2015. About 74 percent of those pedestrian fatalities happened when it was dark outside. 

NHTSA data also show that 21 percent of children 14 and younger who were killed in traffic crashes were on the street, whether walking or bicycling.

Although reflective material is not a new product, it’s also not something most people make a point to use. An Oakdale company that manufactures reflective material is trying to make it more accessible.

Chuck Gruber, president and chief operating officer of Safe Reflections, said most often people avoid wearing reflective tape because it can be expensive and the silver color makes them feel like they look silly.

Safe Reflections invented a way to add color to 3M Scotchlite Reflective Material and manufactures their products in Oakdale. The company then sells these products to other businesses — primarily active wear companies such as Nike, New Balance, Patagonia and Zumi. 

“We invented color reflective almost 10 years ago and the first color we made was black, and we sold that to Harley Davidson,” Gruber said. “Harley Davidson for 10 years had been using black reflective in their motorcycle jackets that we’ve been making for them.”

After seeing a need for making reflective material more accessible to consumers, Safe Reflections launched a consumer-based business last year called Brilliant Reflective, which sells iron-on and stick-on reflective strips that can be added to items people already own, making it a more affordable option for the thrifty shopper.

Now, Brilliant Reflective is giving away a half million rolls of their stick-on strips for free to groups who can give examples of how they plan to utilize the strips.

Groups can include Boy or Girl Scout troops, schools, school districts or even sports teams. Although community members can still purchase packs of reflective strips for individual use, the giveaway is intended for groups of 25 people or more.

Gruber said there are numerous ways to incorporate the product with items people already have. His family, for example, has reflective tape on all of their jackets, bicycles and helmets as well as on the family’s dog leash. 

Gruber also said he uses it on his briefcase and luggage so he can be easily seen as he crosses the parking lot after work or on his way home from the airport. 

Backpacks are another great place to use reflective tape, he added.

“The number one recommendation around backpacks for kids is to try to buy a backpack that includes some reflective,” Gruber said. “The only problem is there are very few backpacks out there that have reflective on it, believe it or not. And so here is an option to buy a backpack and put your own reflective on it.”

Gruber said, “With this material you’ve got to think that we should be able to avoid anybody getting hit by a car at night.”

For more information about the giveaway, visit www.brilliantreflective.com/pages/giveaway.


Aundrea Kinney can be reached at 651-748-7822 or akinney@lillienews.com


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