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For cyclists and pedestrians: bright clothing and lights lets you be seen better, but does it make you any safer?

There is a growing body of evidence that bright clothing, particularly fluorescent yellow, red and orange clothing, or flashing lights or reflectors, helps drivers see cyclists and pedestrians.

There is, however, no evidence that this necessarily makes cyclists or pedestrians any safer. The problem is that no one has done the research needed to test this.

“To get meaningful data will require large trials, and they will be difficult to conduct, but it is important that we discover whether being seen is necessarily the same as being safe,” says Lead Review Author Irene Kwan, who works at the National Collaborating Centre for Women’s and Children’s Health at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, in London.

The statistics show why this is such an important issue globally as well as in the UK, at a time when walking and cycling are being actively promoted for their environmental, economic and health benefits. Worldwide, road crashes account for over a million deaths and some ten million permanent disabilities a year. Nearly three-quarters of road deaths are in low and middle-income countries, and most of the injured people were pedestrians or cyclists, for whom walking and cycling are essential modes of travel.

In the UK in 2000 42,033 pedestrians and 20,612 cyclists were injured. (Figures from the former Department for Environment, Transport and the Regions)

A frequent cause of accidents is drivers not noticing other road users until it is too late. This issue is particularly important at night when a high proportion of accidents occur.

Polly Young | alfa
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