• June 18th, 2019

In its Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act, Congress directed NHTSA to establish a cooperative program — the National Cooperative Research and Evaluation Program (NCREP) — to conduct research and evaluations of State highway safety countermeasures. NCREP was continued in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. This program is administered by NHTSA and managed jointly by NHTSA and the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). Each year, the States (through GHSA) identify potential highway safety research or evaluation topics they believe are important for informing State policy, planning, and programmatic activities. One such topic identified by GHSA, the reasons why motorcyclists use or do not use high-visibility gear, formed the basis for this project. Prior research on multi-vehicle motorcycle crashes suggests that difficulty detecting motorcycles is a relevant factor. A potential countermeasure to this phenomenon is for a motorcycle rider to wear high-visibility gear, especially at night or in low-light conditions. Yet, many riders do not wear high-visibility gear. This report describes a study that explored why riders choose, or do not choose, to wear high-visibility gear. Eighteen focus groups of 137 riders in Rockville, Maryland; Los Angeles, California; Austin, Texas; and Ann Arbor, Michigan, discussed their attitudes, beliefs and preferences regarding high-visibility gear. As much as possible, the groups consisted of riders of the same gender and who ride the same motorcycle type (cruiser, touring motorcycle, or sport motorcycle). Findings revealed that a minority of participants regularly wear high-visibility gear, and most of these cited a history of being in a crash or knowing others who had been in crashes with other vehicles as the reason for using high-visibility gear. Primary reasons for not wearing high-visibility apparel were objections to its appearance and the belief that it does not fit with their riding culture. Participants indicated that, to increase its acceptance among motorcyclists, the comfort and look of high-visibility gear must improve.