A recent article published in the Journal of the Australasian College of Road Safety looks at perceptions of visibility that cyclists when riding at night, including the role of high-viz (high-vis clothing). The article published Journal of the Australasian College of Road Safety, 21(3). pp. 56-60 is titled, Cyclist visibility at night: Perceptions of visibility do not necessarily match reality and is authored by JM Wood, RA Tyrrell, R Marszalek, P Lacherez, T Carberry, BS Chu, and MJ King.
The abstract of the article is repeated below and the full article in PDF format can be download here.
Visibility limitations make cycling at night particularly dangerous. We previously reported cyclists’ perceptions of their own visibility at night and identified clothing configurations that made them feel visible. In this study we sought to determine whether these self-perceptions reflect actual visibility when wearing these clothing configurations. In a closed-road driving environment, cyclists wore black clothing, a fluorescent vest, a reflective vest, or a reflective vest plus ankle and knee reflectors. Drivers recognised more cyclists wearing the reflective vest plus reflectors (90%) than the reflective vest alone (50%), fluorescent vest (15%) or black clothing (2%). Older drivers recognised the cyclists less often than younger drivers (51% vs 27%). The findings suggest that reflective ankle and knee markings are particularly valuable at night, while fluorescent clothing is not. Cyclists wearing fluorescent clothing may be at particular risk if they incorrectly believe themselves to be conspicuous to drivers at night.
There is further discussion of this article in the blog, The Views of a Cyclist from Croydon where I found out about the study.
January 11, 2013: The Guardian in the UK has an interesting article on the topic of high-viz and questions its effectiveness for cyclists.