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Title: Does high visibility work?

Date: 19 May 2014


Hi – I am fairly new to riding and my girlfriend insists I buy a high visibility waistcoat to go over my Kevlar armoured jacket. I am used to wearing one from my lessons. My search of the internet has led me to lots of forums and there is differing opinion as to the extent the high visibility clothing offers protection. My view is that anything that decreases the chance of an accident happening is worth it but if I have an accident and am not wearing high visibility can I be held to blame for the accident?

Craig Fulton


I agree with you that anything that helps in making you seen by other motorists and pedestrians and therefore reduces the chances of an accident occurring must be a good thing.

It is obvious to say that High Visibility makes bikers more visible to other road users. High visibility clothing that complies with EN471 (a European standard for high visibility clothing) can offer more reaction time to drivers. This can make the difference between an accident occurring or not occurring.

Studies have shown that you are better off wearing high-visibility clothing than not. The Hurt Report 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 motorcycle and rider."

A New Zealand case-control study reported in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found that 1/3 of motorbike accidents might have been prevented by wearing high-visibility clothing.
Were you to be involved in an accident and not wearing high visibility clothing you could not be held to blame for this factor – it is not a legal requirement as opposed to, for example, wearing a helmet. So there would be no reduction for contributory negligence in a claim for injuries and financial losses attributable to the failure to wear high-visibility clothing.

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