See Me Now? The Hi-Viz Difference
Whether you’ve chosen to take the hi-viz road or not, it’s important to know that when you make an effort to be more visible on the road, you are actively reducing the likelihood that you will be involved in an accident.
Two major motorcycle accident studies, the Hurt Report and the MAIDS Report, have made lasting impacts on the way motorcyclists gear up for the road. The Hurt Report was released in 1981 based on data gathered in and around Los Angeles. The MAIDS Report was conducted in 1999 and based on studies of 921 accidents in five European countries.
In both studies, the majority of motorcycle accidents were motorcycle collisions with passenger vehicles. Furthermore, both reports found the vehicle driver was usually at fault because they didn’t see or properly identify the approaching motorcycle in the majority of motorcycle accidents that occurred between a motorcycle and another vehicle.
The Hurt Report
The Hurt Report was initiated by the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and named after its main author, University of Southern California professor Harry Hurt. The Hurt Report found that when the motorcyclist wore brightly colored yellow, orange, or red clothing their likelihood of being involved in an accident dropped because their “conspicuity” (distinct visibility) increased significantly.
The MAIDS Study
The MAIDS Study was commissioned by the Association of European Motorcycle Manufacturers (ACEM) with the support of the European Commission. The MAIDS Report drew less definitive conclusions about the relationship between high visibility clothing and accident reduction. However, the MAIDS Report did show an increase in the number of accidents that occurred when motorcyclists wore dark clothing. The chart below illustrates the report’s main findings. Notice the dramatic number of cases that involved a clearly identifiable ‘perception failure’ by the driver of the Other Vehicle (OV). (It is also interesting to note that OV drivers also in possession of a motorcycle (PTW- powered two wheel vehicle) license were significantly less likely to have such a ‘perception failure’ while in their four-wheeled vehicles.)
To Hi-Viz, Or Not To Hi-Viz
The danger that unwitting automobile drivers pose to motorcyclists isn’t going to nullified by mass motorcyclist conversion to hi-viz gear, but when car drivers are more aware of us, fewer accidents happen. Wearing high-visibility gear is just one part of the safety equation, and should be paired with ongoing rider training, appropriate riding gear, and we should never ride when we’re tired, under the influence, or otherwise impaired.
Increasing rider safety is community effort, too. Educate the car drivers and motorcyclists in your life about the facts, and let’s remind each other to always be on the lookout. Simply put, always give yourself the best safety edge you can. And more and more riders are getting that edge by making hi-viz gear a part of their daily ride preparation.
Here are a few gear ideas to help you get visible:
More hi-viz gear:
Note: bright and modulating headlights and other bike lighting accessories can also help motorcyclists stay visible.
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