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The roles of garment design and scene complexity in the daytime conspicuity of high-visibility safety apparel

In: Journal of Safety Research. Vol. 39, issue 3 (2008), p. 281-286.

Authors: James R. Sayer, Mary Lynn Buonarosa.

Introduction: This study examines the effects of high-visibility garment design on daytime pedestrian conspicuity in work zones. Factors assessed were garment color, amount of background material, pedestrian arm motion, scene complexity, and driver age. Method: The study was conducted in naturalistic conditions on public roads in real traffic. Drivers drove two passes on a 31-km route and indicated when they detected pedestrians outfitted in the fluorescent garments. The locations of the vehicle and the pedestrian were recorded. Results: Detection distances between fluorescent yellow-green and fluorescent red-orange garments were not significantly different, nor were there any significant two-way interactions involving garment color. Pedestrians were detected at longer distances in lower complexity scenes. Arm motion significantly increased detection distances for pedestrians wearing a Class 2 vest, but had little added benefit on detection distances for pedestrians wearing a Class 2 jacket. Discussion: Daytime detection distances for pedestrians wearing Class 2 or Class 3 garments are longest when the complexity of the surround is low. The more background information a driver has to search through, the longer it is likely to take the driver to locate a pedestrian - even when wearing a high-visibility garment. Impact on Industry: These findings will provide information to safety garment manufacturers about characteristics of high-visibility safety garments which make them effective for daytime use.

Research Group: