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Mandatory hi-vis vests for riders?

Hi-vis vest

Slowly authorities are introducing requirements for riders to carry or wear hi-vis clothing.

Victoria requires novice riders to wear a hi-vis vest and now France has introduced a rule where riders have to carry a hi-vis vest. The fine is €11 (about $A15) rising to €100 (about $A150) if they fail to wear the vest during a breakdown.

It brings riders in France into line with drivers who have been required to carry a hi-vis vest for years.

However, the rule could be putting riders in more danger, rather than increasing their safety.Hi-vis vest

A French lobby group says riders could be hit by a car while trying to get a vest out from under their seat, a University of Melbourne professor and bike rider says there is no research that proves hi-vis vests aid safety and the Victorian Motorcycle Council says hi-vis safety is a myth.

Prof Huggins says there are several examples of how hi-vis research is flawed, but uses his own example of a crash involving his Kawasaki: “I should add that I regularly wear a hi-visibility jacket when riding and have been hit by a car while wearing this clothing. The driver claimed they didn’t see me, from a distance of less than 2m, as they changed lanes on top of me. This adds to my doubts on hi-visibility clothing as a panacea.”

The Victorian Motorcycle Council says hi-vis is a safety myth and has called for the rule to be axed.


Hi-vis vestThe VMC says hi-vis vests may impart a false sense of security for novice riders and points out that all bikes have hard-wired headlights yet no research has been done on how this affects visibility.

They say that if hi-vis is a real safety issue, why are there no greater penalties for drivers who crash into people wearing them?

While there are no conclusive scientific studies that say hi-vis clothing is safer for riders, there are several international studies with varied finding suggesting dark clothing is more visible in certain lighting situations, hi-vis rider gear may be less visible in certain conditions and hi-vis clothing could create a “target fixation” for motorists, causing them to steer toward the wearer.

Some say group rides with lead and tail-end riders in hi-vis vests destroys our argument. However hi-vis vests on group rides are not worn for safety reasons. They are there to help distinguish those riders from the others so that riders don’t accidentally pass the lead rider or fall behind the sweep.

  1. I had wondered about the groups with the hi vis at the front and back
    i must say i cracked up at the first group i saw like this {i think they may
    have been hogs] they looked like a bunch of primary kids out on a school

  2. Hi-vis is intended to make riders more visible – the same concept as “hard-wired on headlights”. But you can be wearing a flashing LED Suit with a strobe light on top of your helmet and drivers still wont see you unless they actually look! Mind you if you were going down that path, you’d probably get fined for non-approved accessories on a Helmet and I read somewhere LED’s are also a no no so you really cant win!

    If the authorities want to pick on our dress code – I think they’d do better to start with “no wearing of thongs while riding” before starting on Hi-vis.

  3. Good story Mark ,
    I really like the bit about the French lobby group that claim that you could be hit while getting your vest out ….. maybe not standing on the road while you get it out might be an idea worth trying ?
    And Prof Huggins – the driver didn’t see him ! Well, thats a very common excuse. A long time ridding companion of mine said the same thing when he wrote off his CVO – he side swipped a Honda Goldwing towing a pop-up camper…never had an accident in 24 years of bike riding…..
    The fact that anyone could believe that hi-vis clothing could create a “target fixation” really makes me feel uncomfortable – I have to wear very reflective hi-vis clothing at work, site rules etc., and all this time I thought I was doing the right thing, instead I was making myself an easier target.
    Lets be real for a minute, a seasoned rider should not be expected to wear a hi-vis vest, but a greenhorn beginner, thats another matter all together…….like L-plates, they should be made to wear them day and night, even if there is only a small percentage of a chance that it may help get a novice rider noticed, it has done its job..
    If hi-vis doesn’t work, why do roadside workers wear them??? in fact, why is it mandatory that they wear hi-vis if it is not to be seen??? Its definately not a fashion statement…
    Why do most m’cycle jackets have night-time reflective material on them? Are the companies making them like that for bling or so you are that little bit more visible??
    Sure, I know, our rights , our lives, bla bla bla…
    They would never make it mandatory, even common sence m’cycle riding gear isn’t mandatory……bar the helmet…..but we still find reasons to whinge and whine about that to.
    I wish things could be the way they were 20 years ago, but there are a hell of a lot more vehicles out there today, all I can say is “Stay Safe”.

    1. There is a whole industry built around “safety ” these days, workers in some industries
      spend as much time filling out risk assessment forms as doing the work.
      One bloke i know even had ‘risk of terrorist attack ‘ on one he had to fill out, They were
      planting trees out in the bush for gods sake.
      Why is hi-vis mandatory for just about everybody? Because its all about safety .
      Argue against it and your treated like a nutter or worse
      You break down by the side of the road, get off the bike and get taken out by a car
      You are not wearing a hi-vis vest you forgot to bring it.
      You are now responsible at least partly for your injuries so expect a reduced
      amount of compensation.
      We already pay far too much for 3rd party insurance [it only covers pillions or those
      you might run into]
      Hi-vis makes us legally responsible for the actions of others, It may start for learners
      but that will just be a step to making it compulsory for all.

  4. Mandating hi-vis vests for motorcyclists is just another stupid idea thought up by simple-minded people who know nothing about motorcycling. Like some other things, it just doesn’t suit everybody. When dealing with simple-minded people you have to explain things repeatedly and in great detail, so I will repeat what has been posted elsewhere.

    I live in the Far North where it is hot for nine months of the year and warm for the other three. I don’t own a car so I do all of my shopping on a bike. I wear my mesh jacket and gloves for the 10 km journey into town but take them off at the first stop and leave them off until I am ready to go home. It just isn’t practical to take them off and on at every stop when running around town and it is much too hot to leave them on when I am off the bike. It is also unbearably hot at traffic lights and in slow moving stop-start traffic.

    So what would I do if hi-vis vests were mandatory? Wearing an extra vest over my mesh jacket would restrict airflow even if the hi-vis vest itself was mesh, putting me at risk of heatstroke. I would have to buy a new hi-vis mesh jacket (if such a thing exists). Then when I do the short trips around town (often only a couple of hundred metres at a time) without my jacket on I would not be legal. I could wear a hi-vis shirt under my hi-vis jacket, but that would be inappropriate if during that trip to town I was going to see my solicitor or accountant, or attending a meeting or social gathering. I could carry another hi-vis vest and take it off and on at every stop when I don’t have my jacket on, but that simply gets back to doing the ‘off, on, off, on, all day long’ thing that is very inconvenient. I couldn’t walk around with it on because, in case you have forgotten, it is much to hot to have another vest over my shirt.

    Instead of hi-vis vests why not have hi-vis helmets, or at least the option to choose one of the two. This would cause no inconvenience to anybody. Quite simply, when you are on the bike you have your helmet on, and when you are off the bike the helmet is off. There is no extra hassle involved. The helmet is up high and would be visible in many situations where a vest would be obscured by fairings, mirrors or behind other vehicles. It would have to be phased in over a five year period because if you have just bought a new helmet, as I have just done, you would not want to have to throw it away just because the law says it is the wrong colour.

    Of course, if they just force hi-vis on motorcyclists without doing something about all of the dark coloured cars that blend in with the road in the distance, especially on overcast days, it proves that they are just out to hassle motorcyclists in any way that they can and are not really interested in road safety at all.

  5. Forget hi-viz, its a smidsy issue. Answer? Proper training by qualified instructors for motor vehicle drivers, eg how to be motorcycle aware and for motorcycle riders eg how to avoid badly trained motor vehicle drivers.

    Most of the so called qualified instructors Ive seen in action cannot drive a car or ride a bike properly themselves.
    Hit the problem at the source.

  6. Just one quick clarification. VisorDown, the resected UK motorcycle news site says in France it is proposed that you simply have to have a Hi Viz vest with you or on your bike.
    It is not proposed that it be mandatory to ride with it on as the Victorian L scheme does.
    If you have a link to different information please can you post it.

    1. That’s right. That’s what the story says. They have to carry it. They can carry it in their panniers or under the seat. They must wear it when they have broken down or stopped on the side of the road.
      Victoria has mandated it for novice riders.

  7. I reckon all cars driven by a learner should be painted a high-vis colour too.
    Why not ??

    This high-vis vest business is just something cooked up by retailers to sell something extra
    so I reckon spraypainters like me should have a cut of the action as well. Ta.
    : )

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