Earlier this week I nearly knocked someone over.

It was after dark, they darted into the road and were wearing a dark coat. I only realised they were there when suddenly I saw them in my headlights.

Fortunately for whoever they were, I was going slowly and was able to brake in time. They got across the road safely – and may never have realised that I had braked.

It was a telling example of how dangerous town roads are after dark in the winter.

The big problem is not cyclists, but pedestrians.

The majority of cyclists have lights and wear some kind of reflective clothing.

But the majority of winter coats and other outdoor clothing are black, navy blue or otherwise dark coloured. This means motorists cannot see pedestrians as soon as it is fully dark.

I routinely drive five to ten miles more slowly after dark in a town than I would in daylight and the reason is not cyclists but pedestrians.

Next time you’re out on the roads after dark in the city, see how often you manage to see a pedestrian before you’re practically on top of them.You’ll find it surprisingly difficult.

They vanish from sight the moment it becomes dark but they are still there, and they probably never think of how invisible they are because they’re on the pavement.

Then they need to cross the road, so they step into the road, and suddenly they are there in the headlights of a car whose driver had no idea they were anywhere near.

A line of parked cars makes it even more difficult for a motorist to see pedestrians on the pavement and when a pedestrian decides to come between the parked cars to cross the road –it’s a nightmare for the driver.

Pelican crossings are another problem. In the daytime you can see if someone is waiting to cross and so be prepared to stop should the lights change. But in the dark it’s a different matter. Do you screech to a halt as the lights change possibly causing a car to crash into the back of you, or do you slow down at every single pelican on the off chance an invisible pedestrian is about to cross?

From time to time, particularly in the earlier evening, you may see a runner or a jogger with a reflective strip on their tracksuit top or their trainers. They know how easy it is for them not to be seen, possibly because they or a jogging friend has had a close encounter with a car in the past.

But for Mr and Mrs Responsible Average Citizen with their children, it’s a case of head-to-toe dark clothing please.

They have a kind of an excuse because that’s what’s available in the shops.

For some reason, the fashion gurus and those who decree what clothes we can buy believe that once the weather turns gloomy, we want to be dressed in gloomy clothes as though we are in deep mourning for the end of summer.

As soon as the sun reappears next spring, out come the bright summer colours to match the bright summery weather. No wonder people suffer from SAD or seasonal affective disorder. We are not allowed to be happy outdoors in winter.

Wouldn’t it be better for everyone if they tried to lighten the mood by finding happy colours for winter coats and winter outer clothes, such as bright reds, blues, greens and yellows, instead of navy dark, dull browns black and dark grey. If the sun can’t lighten the mood because it’s hiding behind rain clouds, couldn’t our clothes substitute for it?

If you take part in or watch winter sports in countries with lots of snow and freezing temperatures, you’ll know that ski clothing is often full of bright colours. So it is obviously possible to have winter outer clothing that isn’t navy blue or in deep mourning.

If we wore bright colours in winter, pedestrians would be less likely to become dark shadows in the darkness and motorists would have a better chance of seeing them.

It’s time we mounted a campaign for bright coloured outerwear in the winter. It could save a lot of lives.

It could also make winter a happier time generally.