This paper presents findings from a research study into the role that communication plays in the safety of vulnerable road users (VRUs), including a literature review, a hypothesis, and a case study testing our hypothesis. Many governments and road authorities lack capital or have not made it a priority to implement full VRU safety measures, with many gaps in VRU infrastructure and networks. These gaps leave VRUs to take safety into their own hands, including use of conspicuity aids such as high-visibility wear, helmets, bells, and lights with differing levels of effectiveness. The knowledge gap regarding the conventional wisdom, “be safe, be seen,” is the absence of communication and comprehension between road users (VRUs and vehicles). We hypothesize that communication aids are equally, if not more important than visibility aids for VRU safety. A case study was conducted to measure the effectiveness of several Hi-Viz safety vest designs including online surveys and separate in-field experiments using Instrumented Probe Bicycles. The results suggest that Hi-Viz safety vests using arrow designs (ArroWhere’s proprietary products and designs) similar to those found in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) can increase VRU safety until road authorities can fully fund and complete proper and sustainable VRU networks.
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