Many law enforcement officers have been needlessly killed while investigating the scenes of traffic accidents on busy roadways. But it’s possible to decrease the risk of being hit by a car when working at night or in low light: wear a reflective vest.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that road workers are eight times more likely to be injured than the average worker, yet some employees choose not to wear protective safety vests when needed. A key reason, according to a survey commissioned by the International Safety Equipment Association, was lack of style and comfort.
While traditional reflective safety vests still have a role to play, they are now being supplemented with a wide range of new choices. The multiplicity of fabrics and designs has improved comfort and durability. For example, high-visibility garments can be comprised of ultra-lightweight knit fabrics for hot summer months, or incorporate warm, lightweight insulation for winter. Many new garments are also becoming more functional with badges, logos, and identification markings indicating names, responsibilities, organizations, and other information that helps reduce confusion.
In addition, reflective fabrics and films are now being converted into webbing, trim, and graphic transfers, allowing options for creating more visible designs, patterns, and accents. Since these new high-performance garments can be more comfortable, easier to maintain, and more functional, officers have a greater incentive to wear them.
Officers are the immediate and obvious beneficiaries of this expanded range of garments, but there can also be significant benefits for the agencies themselves. According to the American Economics Group, if the public and private sector allocated annual expenditures of at least three billion dollars for a range of 32 safety improvements, including outfitting all roadway workers with high-visibility apparel, it could avoid 66 roadside fatalities and almost 5,000 roadside accidents per year. Based on the implementation of these 32 safety improvements, it was further estimated that for every dollar spent on high-visibility apparel, five dollars in accident costs could be avoided.
For more information on this program and the benefits of wearing high-visibility vests when working traffic details, visit www.3m.com.