High-vis vest research

So research carried out by the University of Bath (one cyclist death this month) which took place on the roads of Bristol (three cyclist deaths this month) into the effect of high-vis vests on passing motorists found they had no impact whatsoever on driver behaviour compared to those not wearing one! A variety of high-vis vests were used and over 6,000 motorists were monitored. So there is little point in wearing one during the day time it seems. They did notice however that almost all motorists were observant enought to keep well away from a vest that had POLICE on the back but they ignored a vest that had POLITE on the back, just one letter different but it demonstrated that motorists are looking pretty closely at what is in front of them. The most shocking part of the research however was that compared to similar research carried out 25 years ago the avergage motorist today passes cyclists a whole 2 feet closer than they did in the past. The researchers were at a loss to explain why this might be. Maybe these orange plastic things with a red reflector that used to jut out from bikes for a couple of feet, but seem to have gone out of fashion were not a bad idea after all.


  • By phufbl at 5:34pm 28 November 2013

Do you have a link either to the paper or to a news report?

A high vis vest will make you more likely to be seen, but if this research is true I guess it will not make people more considerate to you after they have seen you. It is still important to be seen in the first place though!

There could be a number of reasons drivers pass closer to cyclists now. Are they comparing like-for-like passes on similar roads at similar times?

google university of bath cycle research

  • By phufbl at 6:51pm 28 November 2013

Come on, you've got to make it easier than that, provide your own sources!


IS this what you meant?

His research is him cycling around with a distance detector and with and without a helmet.

I would criticise his experimental method because he may have behaved differently with and without a helmet. Does he have a natural bias? Perhaps he cycled further into the road when wearing a helmet so that there was less room for a car to overtake, and consequently the cars passed closer to him. Apparently buses and trucks passed closer than cars, which is probably down to the road space available.

This report doesn't mention a comparison with passing distances 25 years ago, or high vis vests for that matter

  • By phufbl at 6:53pm 28 November 2013

ah, i guess it is this one?


The comparison reference is from a TV interview with a researcher from Bath Uni that I saw on BBC Points West.

The bit about them steering clear of poliCe vs poliTe , repeatably, on an otherwise identical vest, is the most telling, coz it shows the unsafe driving behaviour is *deliberate*, and deserves a pull. Then it's three strikes and they're out!..

  • By haidij at 10:36am 29 November 2013

I wear one of the 'Polite' vests and it does seem to make a difference with oncoming motorists - the front has the checks similar in design to the police vests so it's not the word that's effective, it's the checked design. I see them catching me out of the corner of their eye and slowing down or being more cautious - at least being conscious of my presence. Overall I do think they make a difference.

  • By sk5 at 3:14pm 29 November 2013

I don't wear any hi vis jackets as drivers will always be inconsiderate no matter what you wear (although cycling naked might make them look twice). 


Seriously though, drivers do drive closer than before. Maybe modern stress levels are so high, people relax more when they are driving and that is the problem.


Bottom line, ban large heavy SUV vehicles, the young and the old from driving ....might have hit a nerve there!!!!!

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