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Perceptions of visibility and conspicuity of biomotion clothing configurations for road workers at road work sites

By J.M. Wood, R. Marszalek, P. Lacherez, R.A. Tyrrell and A. Chaparro


Aims: This study determined whether the visibility benefits of positioning retroreflective strips in biological motion configurations were evident at real world road worker sites. Methods: 20 visually normal drivers (M=40.3 years) participated in this study that was conducted at two road work sites (one suburban and one freeway) on two separate nights. At each site, four road workers walked in place wearing one of four different clothing options: a) standard road worker night vest, b) standard night vest plus retroreflective strips on thighs, c) standard night vest plus retroreflective strips on ankles and knees, d) standard night vest plus retroreflective strips on eight moveable joints (full biomotion). Participants seated in stationary vehicles at three different distances (80m, 160m, 240m) rated the relative conspicuity of the four road workers using a series of a standardized visibility and ranking scales. Results: Adding retroreflective strips in the full biomotion configuration to the standard night vest significantly (p<0.001) enhanced perceptions of road worker visibility compared to the standard vest alone, or in combination with thigh retroreflective markings. These visibility benefits were evident at all distances and at both sites. Retroreflective markings at the ankles and knees also provided visibility benefits compared to the standard vest, however, the full biomotion configuration was significantly better than all of the other configurations. Conclusions: These data provide the first evidence that the benefits of biomotion retroreflective markings that have been previously demonstrated under laboratory and closed- and open-road conditions are also evident at real work sites

Publisher: Transportation Research Board
Year: 2010
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