What is High-Visibility Clothing?

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  • Written By: Diane Goettel
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 09 January 2020
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High-visibility clothing is clothing that is made of bright or fluorescent materials. These garments might also be designed with strips of reflective material, and are usually worn for safety purposes. Bicyclists, for example, often wear high-visibility clothing so that they can be easily seen when they are riding on or near roads that are shared by cars and trucks. It is especially common for bicyclists to wear some sort of reflective material while riding at night or when the sun is low in the sky. People who enjoy walking or jogging also sometimes wear high-visibility clothing if they plan to exercise at dawn, dusk, or nighttime.

There are certain professions that require workers to wear high-visibility clothing while they are on the job. This is especially true in the transportation and construction industries. In the United States, crews working to build, repair, or resurface federally funded roads are required to wear high-visibility vests during the work day. These vests are usually made out of a bright orange material. By wearing these bright orange vests, the workers are more visible to people who are driving on or near the road that is under construction.


It is common for employees who work on the ground at airports to wear high-visibility clothing. This includes personnel who service the aircraft, those who direct them while they are taxiing, and the workers who manage the movement of cargo to and from the planes. It is important for pilots to be able to see the people on the ground both to avoid injury and to receive instructions.

Sometimes high-visibility material is used to make accessories instead of clothes. It is common for messenger bags, for example, to be made with a bright or reflective panel. Because bike messengers usually have to navigate crowded city streets during the work day, it is important that they be highly visible to everyone else on the road. Messenger bags have become popular accessories that are worn by many people, some who do not even own bicycles. They are a good alternative to clothing made out of reflective or fluorescent material.

Some emergency responders such as EMTs and policemen wear high-visibility clothing as part of their uniforms. This is considered necessary so that people who need their assistance can easily locate them, even in a large crowd. These uniforms also help them to locate each other.


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Post 3

@KoiwiGal - Lights can be misleading though. I used to go walking along a popular cycling route in the evenings and often I wouldn't realize a cyclist was close because their flashing lights seemed to make them look far away. I would much rather use the high visibility safety clothing.

Post 2

@Ana1234 - At the same time don't disregard the importance of decent high visibility vests or jackets. I have friends who refuse to wear them because they think they are too dorky, but honestly I think only an idiot would go without, particularly when the weather is bad or it's night.

If you're cycling you might also want to put lights on your bike. Even the most careless of drivers will hopefully automatically give way to vehicle lights even if they don't register that you're on a cycle at first.

And you can get lights that are powered by the wheels so you don't have to worry about batteries or anything like that.

Post 1

High visibility clothing is very useful but don't depend on it completely, especially if you're walking or riding a bike around cars. The clothing is only as good as the people driving around you and in a lot of cases that means it won't do much good at all.

Always stay on alert and try not to put yourself into a position where you might not be seen, or might not be seen in time.

I hope that one day it's more the norm to have safe places for walkers and cyclists to travel where they will be away from other traffic entirely, but until then safety clothing is really only one step among a lot to keep yourself safe.

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