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Ask Chuck: Does Wearing Hi-Vis Make Me Safer?

Hi Vis.jpg

This is a very common question for riders of all types. We dive in.

Hi-vis clothing has been around for decades and has long been a fixture for runners and cyclists looking to improve just how visible they are to motorists. Over the past decade or so, hi-viz helmets, jerseys, vests, shoes, and more have become even more en vogue, offered as another ingredient in the recipe for safer cycling. Many riders leave their homes with the expectation that their lime green or acid yellow vest or jersey makes them safer; but does it?

That theory has been so pervasive that some municipalities have even thrown around the idea of making hi-vis apparel compulsory, with some kind of fine levied for riders on the roads without highly visible clothing. That prompted a number of studies, including one that spanned a full 15 years. The verdict was rather conclusive, and it wasn’t good. Researches found that hi-vis had ‘no impact’ on the number of crashes involving cyciists.

They were quick to point out that the clothing did seem to make cyclists more visible, but didn’t affect the rate of crashes. Similar studies involving cycling lights were much more encouraging, with one study finding that using daytime lights reduced crashes by as much as 47%.

So are hi-vis worth it? Well, it can’t hurt. Anything that improves your visibility may make a difference, but the data seems to show that factors such as infrastructure and traffic design have far more influence on cycling crashes. There is also more encouraging evidence that using daytime running lights can improve your level of safety, so consider looking at the option that works best for you.