Project: Motor Vehicle And Pedal Cycle Conspicuity

Reference: S270F/VC

Last update: 03/12/2003 14:20:39


The project objectives are to:

* determine the effectiveness of flashing lights, retro-reflective and fluorescent materials as conspicuity aids;
* provide guidance on the installation and performance of such aids so as to maximise their conspicuity benefits, without producing excessive glare and to ensure the appropriate message is given to other road users; and
* propose improvements in pedal cycle lighting and to determine whether flashing lights can provide cyclists with increased conspicuity.


This work examined three discreet areas of motor vehicle and pedal cycle conspicuity. The research provided a better understanding of the issues involved.


ICE Ergonomics
Holywell Building, Holywell Way, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE11 3UZ
+44 (0)1509 283300

Contract details

Cost to the Department: £240,050.00

Actual start date: 05 June 1996

Actual completion date: 31 March 2001


TT779. Motor Vehicle and Pedal Cycle Conspicuity Final Reports
Author: ICE Ergonomics Ltd
Publication date: 30/04/2002
Source: ICE Ergonomics (Loughborough Univ)

Summary of results

  1. Accident analysis suggests that improving the conspicuity of vehicles and providing messages as to those vehicles characteristics is likely to be of benefit.

    The warning beacon designs available in the market are largely governed by the restrictions imposed by the relevant regulations. However contact with the various warning beacon user groups suggests that current warning beacons are not as effective as they would wish and may in certain instances be giving rise to disbenefits to other road users.

    This confirms that there is a need for:
    * general research into warning beacons effectiveness and disbenefits; and
    * specific research to determine if any benefits are to be derived from recovery operators and breakdown services employing an additional colour to amber.

    The test programme confirmed that, in general, those factors which make a warning beacon more conspicuous also give rise to disability glare, discomfort glare and distraction. Therefore the recommendations seek not to maximise conspicuity but to optimise it in relation to the disbenefits it generates giving full consideration to the unique requirements of the different groups of warning beacon users.

    However, road trials using high quality prototype beacons should be undertaken prior to nation-wide introduction. These are a valuable and necessary stage in the design process which allows fine-tuning of the final design by the end users thereby improving market acceptability of the final product.