• Does the color of construction workers safety vests affect worker conspicuity in simulated construction work zones?

    NCDOT Research Project Number: 2020-49

 Executive Summary

  • The construction industry is known to be one of the most dangerous employment industries worldwide. Research has demonstrated that traffic accidents in work zones are on the rise, contributing to both heavy incident-related costs to the industry and, more importantly, to fatal and serious non-fatal injuries of construction workers. With construction workers being twice as likely to be killed by a motor vehicle as the average worker, adoption of methods to improve worker visibility is becoming increasingly important. The fluorescent yellow/green color and fluorescent orange/red color of safety vests are generally considered as the most distinctive colors for high visibility vests. However, there is very limited research to date examining the effects of the presence of safety vest and their colors on worker conspicuity in the context of construction safety. To test these effects, 49 participants from eastern North Carolina navigated a series of 3 construction work zone driving tracks in a commercial driving simulator while fitted with a mobile head mounted eye tracker. Eye tracking data were collected and analyzed to examine participants visual acuity and determine the proportion of worker characters in the simulator tracks which were seen by the research participants. The results suggest that the provision of safety vests did increase the proportion of workers characters observed across all and within each track (p = 0.0002). However, there was no variability in proportion data for safety vest colors indicating that vest color had no effect on worker character conspicuity (all p > 0.05). This study departs from the current body of literature by being the first quasi-experimental procedure to examine the effects of the presence of worker safety vests on worker conspicuity in simulated construction work zones. Additionally, this is the first quasi experimental study to investigate the effects of the presence of a worker safety vests on worker conspicuity in simulated construction work zones using an interactive driving simulator and eye tracking technology.​


Dylan Hardison
Dylan Hardison
Jarvis Gray
Stephanie C. Bolyard
East Carolina University

 Report Period

  • July 1, 2019 - June 30, 2021


  • Complete


  • Traffic, Mobility, Safety and Roadway Design

 Sub Category

  • Traffic Management

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