High-Visibility Orange Vest
High-Visibility Neon Green Vest

High-visibility clothing is a type of personal protective equipment (PPE), is any clothing worn that has high reflective properties or a color that is easily recognizable from any background. Yellow waistcoats worn by emergency services are a common example. Occupational wearers of clothing with high-visibility features include railway, highway workers, airport workers, and/or other places where workers are near moving vehicles. Cyclists wear high-visibility clothing when riding in urban areas of traffic. Hunters may be required to wear select high-visibility clothing to prevent accidental shooting.

ArmyNavyShop.com has a variety of vests that benefit workers for visibility.

Click Here for REFLECTIVE SAFETY VESTS - A selection of High-visibility (HV) clothing at your ArmyNavyShop.com
  • Law Enforcement: the importance of a tactical vest with multiple capabilities. The vest should comprise of a variety of utility pouches, i.e., radio pouch, mic clips, and more
  • Security: a vest should be reflective and have four-season adjustability that allows for accurate sizing in any weather, even over bulky coats.
  • EMS: a vest should be reflective with a 5-point breakaway system. The vest should include hook, loop closures, and radio pockets.


The Hurt Report (1981), found that very few motorcyclists involved in collisions wore high-visibility clothing, and that just over half of the collisions studied, nearly two-thirds of those involving another vehicle, were due to the motorist unintentionally violating the motorcyclist's right-of-way. "This dominant culpability of the driver of the other vehicle...emphasizes the special need for high-contrast conspicuity for the motorcyclist and rider."

A New Zealand case-control study found that if their odds ratios were non-confounded, the population attributed risks were 33% for wearing no reflective or fluorescent clothing; one-third of motorbike accidents might have been prevented by wearing "high-visibility clothing."


Traffic risks to the cyclist are similar to those faced by motorcyclists (See: SMIDSY), with the main differences being that bicycling speeds are typically lower, and the bicyclist wears less protective gear. In a 2009 study, most UK cyclists and almost all motorists believed that high-visibility clothing would increase cyclists' visibility.  Almost all drivers agreed that cyclists need to wear reflective clothing in low-lighting environments; whereas, less than 3/4 of cyclists (72%) agreed, and less than half claimed that they always wear reflective clothing.

  • A Cochrane Systematic Review of research evidence for the effectiveness of visibility aids (fluorescent and retro reflective clothing and equipment) was carried out by Kwan and Mapstone (2006). The authors found that 42 studies which collectively suggested that fluorescent clothing could increase the distance at which drivers could detect, then recognize, cyclists in daylight conditions. The same review found evidence that retro-reflective materials worn by cyclists at night had a similar effect on driver perceptions.
  • A 2009 Australian study of drivers trying to see stationary cyclists on a closed circuit found that fluorescent vests (without retro-reflective stripes) were not a significant improvement on black clothing at night, and that retro-reflective strips were more effective when attached to knees and ankles than on a more or less static jacket.
  • A 2012 British case-control study showed a non-significant increase in the odds of a crash for users of reflective conspicuity aids while cycling.

  • In 2014, a further case-control study conducted in Canada, reported a decrease in the odds of a collision with a motor vehicle when wearing light (not specifically fluorescent) colored clothing in daylight, but an increase in the odds of a collision for cyclists using fluorescent clothing (and lights) at night. The number of conspicuity aids used was positively associated with an increase in collision crash odds but a non-significant reduction in the likelihood of hospitalization. These results show a large safety effect in simulated or experimental conditions, but little, if any, benefit of conspicuity aids use in observations of actual utility cyclists. This apparent contradiction may arise because of a form of risk compensation. Cyclists using conspicuity aids might be overestimating the level of protection conspicuity aids actually confer when used while cycling in traffic.

  • Since 2014, New York City regulations require commercial bikers, i.e., restaurant delivery persons or bike messengers, to wear high-visibility clothing while riding. 


The American National Standards Institute published standard 107 for high-visibility clothing in 1999. The standard defines three classes of successively more-visible garments, to protect workers exposed to successively higher levels of risk from motor vehicles and heavy equipment. The International Safety Equipment Association developed the standard, with revisions in 2004 and 2010.

The standard specifies three classes of activities and the minimum quantity of fluorescent and retro reflective material to be worn in each class.

  • Class 1 activities are a relatively low hazard from slow-moving vehicles, i.e., in a parking lot. Garments must have retro reflective strips 1 inch wide and a minimum of 217 square inches of fluorescent material.
  • Class 2 activities take place in proximity to vehicles moving up to 25 miles per hour, i.e., railway workers or school crossing guards. The standard requires reflective bands of greater width and 755 square inches of conspicuously colored fabric.
  • Class 3 activities take place near traffic moving faster than 25 miles per hour, i.e., highway construction. The standard requires at least 1240 square inches of fluorescent fabric, and two-inch retro reflector bands. Only very large vests have enough area to meet this standard; full sleeves may be required. A further class of garment is Class E high visibility pants, which, in conjunction with a Class 2 or Class 3 vest, are recommended by the standard for Class 3 activities.

Ranger/Hunter Camouflage Vest
DEER HUNTERS wear blaze orange for identification as humans, not game animals. Hunting laws in each state or province may require hunters to wear designated garments in blaze orange to prevent mis-identification of humans as game animals and consequent shooting accidents. The required total visible area and times may vary by jurisdiction, and by the type of hunting in the area. 

HUNTING CLOTHES are offered in blaze orange and camouflage, where the bright orange color is plainly visible to the human eye, but the shape of the hunter is broken up by irregular patterns to prevent identification as a threat by game animals such as deer, which cannot see the color.

Also Interesting to Note:
  • Every day approximately 3,000 people die and 30,000 people are seriously injured on the world's roads. A disproportionate burden is borne by low to middle income countries and vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists, and riders of motorcycles and scooters.
  • By 2020, road traffic crashes are projected to be the third leading cause of death and disability worldwide 
  • Low motorcycle conspicuity, or the inability of the motorcyclist to be seen by other road users, is thought to be a significant factor associated with risk of motorcycle crashes. 
  • This may result from several factors, including the size of motorcycle, irregular outline, low-luminance, or contrast with the background environment, and the ability to travel in unexpected places in the traffic stream. Inexpensive measures can potentially enhance conspicuity; i.e., adding a light source and the use of light, bright relective, or fluorescent colors.

Cited Works

"ANSI/ISEA 107-2004 MADE EASY: A Quick Reference to High-Visibility Safety Apparel." 3M.
"High-visibility clothing." Rail Safety and Standards Board (2008).
Hurt, H.H., Jr. Ouellet J.V. & Wagar I.J. (1981a). Effectiveness of Motorcycle Safety Helmets and Protective Clothing, Proceedings of the American Association for Automotive Medicine
Hurt, H.H., Jr. Ouellet J.V. & Thom, D.R. (1981b). Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors and Identification of Countermeasures. (DOT HS 805 862). Washington, D.C.: National Highway Traffic Safety Admin.
Siff, Andrew. "NYC to crack down on food delivery cyclists." NBC New York. NBCUniversal Media, LLC, 22 Feb. 2013. Web. 11 Apr. 2015.
Wells, et al. (2004). "Motorcycle rider conspicuity and crash related injury: case-control study." Nguyen. BMJ Publishing, Inc., Dec. 2014. Web. 11 Apr. 2015.