Configuring Retroreflective Markings to Enhance the Night-Time Conspicuity of Road WorkersAuthor/Presenter: Wood, Joanne M.; Marszalek, Ralph; Lacherez, Philippe; Tyrrell, Richard A.
This study investigated whether the night-time conspicuity of road workers can be enhanced by positioning retroreflective strips on the moveable joints in patterns that convey varying degrees of biological motion. Participants were 24 visually normal adults (12 young M = 26.8 years; 12 older M = 72.9 years). Visual acuity, contrast sensitivity and glare sensitivity were recorded for each participant. Experimenters acting as road workers walked in place on a closed road circuit within simulated road work sites, facing either the oncoming driver or the roadway (presenting sideways to the driver) and wearing one of four clothing conditions: (i) standard road worker vest; (ii) standard vest plus thigh-mounted retroreflective strips; (iii) standard vest plus retroreflective strips on ankles and knees; (iv) standard vest plus retroreflective strips positioned on the extremities in a configuration that conveyed biological motion (“biomotion”). As they drove along the closed road participants were instructed to press a button to indicate when they first recognized that a road worker was present. The results demonstrated that regardless of the direction of walking, road workers wearing biomotion clothing were recognized at significantly (p < 0.05) longer distances (3x), relative to the standard vest alone. Response distances were significantly shorter for the older drivers. Contrast sensitivity was a better predictor of the ability to recognize road workers than was visual acuity or glare sensitivity. We conclude that adding retroreflective strips in the biomotion configuration can significantly improve road worker conspicuity regardless of the road worker’s orientation and the age of the driver.