High visibility clothing features reflective materials and/or bright colors, such as fluorescent yellows, greens and oranges. These colors stand out from most environments, making the wearer highly visible in daylight conditions. Retro-reflective strips may be added to complement the coloring and further increase visibility. Similar to the surface of a cat’s eye, retro-reactive materials reflect light back to its source with minimal scattering of light, making the reflection as bright as possible.
Professionals and laymen alike use high visibility clothing. Some examples include pedestrians, workers, cyclists, motorcyclists, hunters, tow-truck drivers, construction workers, emergency responders, parking attendants, surveyors, film/TV/news crews, and equestrians. If you need to be seen in poor lighting, extreme weather, or when working around moving machinery, high visibility clothing is critical. In certain situations, it is also legally required by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
Perhaps the most popular form of high visibility clothing is the safety vest. Safety vests come in several classes depending on the user’s preference and legal requirements. The following list is a quick summary of different classes of safety vests available:
- Class 1 Vest. This vest type has the lowest visibility and is best for casual use, such as jogging during daylight, rather than government-regulated or high-risk activities.
- Class 2 jacket. The American National Standards Institute defines the Class 2 Vest as an intermediate visibility garment. These safety vests meet the ANSI regulatory standards for federally funded roadway work, working with heavy machinery, or within proximity to moderately fast traffic.
- Class 3 Vest. Class 3 high visibility vests have the highest degree of visibility and are required by law for night-time activities, extreme weather, or highly crowded traffic areas.