The purpose of this study was to determine whether the conspicuity of motorcycles/motorcyclists could be improved to reduce multivehicle motorcycle crashes. Various conspicuity-increasing treatments were fabricated and tested, using a realistic driving situation and measuring the response of naive drivers. It appears that there are a number of ways to improve daytime motorcycle/motorcyclist conspicuity that should have a meaningful effect on the behavior of car drivers. The simplest is to drive with the headlamp on at all times. The modulating headlamp may be somewhat more effective, but does require some investment on the part of the motorcyclist. High-visibility materials seem quite effective as well, but work better when worn by the rider than when fitted to the bike. The latter finding is somewhat surprising. In the opinion of the investigators, the fluorescent fairing treatment was a more effective attention getter than the fluorescent vest or helmet cover. Yet the field test data indicate the opposite. This suggests that laboratory studies of motorcycle consipicuity can produce misleading results. However, it is not clear why the results came about. One possible explanation is that effectiveness is improved by height. Another is that by emphasizing the rider, speed-spacing judgments are facilitated. This might happen because apparent size is an important distance cue. However, it is based on knowledge of actual size. Most drivers know less about the size of motorcycles, especially motorcycle fairings, than they do about people. For nighttime riding conditions there may be value in wearing retroreflective garments and using running lights. Retroreflective treatments applied to the bike seem less effective, but may be of help. There are combination fluorescent/retroreflective materials available which can provide day and night conspicuity in one package. It is also possible to treat ordinary fabric with beads and make it retroreflective without changing its appearance under normal viewing conditions. This may have potential for other vehicles with conspicuity problems as well. (Author)

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  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Presented at the Symposium on Conspicuity on the Highway, St. Paul Minnesota, 24-26 June 1980. Distribution, posting, or copying of this PDF is strictly prohibited without written permission of the Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials in this PDF are copyrighted by the National Academy of Sciences. Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved
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    Transportation Research Board

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  • Authors:
    • Olson, P L
    • Halstead-Nussloch, R
    • Sivak, M
  • Publication Date: 1981-5

Media Info

  • Features: Figures; References;
  • Pagination: p. 22-25
  • Serial:

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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00335159
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: HS-032 448
  • Files: HSL, TRIS, TRB
  • Created Date: Oct 28 1981 12:00AM