Best Color Choice for Reflective Tape and Panels – click here to go to our online store
When marking your vehicle or trailer with reflective tape, sheeting or panels, it is important to select the right color combination. Color, contrast and brightness are all important and can make the difference between being seen and not seen day or night. The color you select should “contrast” with the other colors it is up against. This makes it conspicuous which is the goal. The tape color should also be “bright” so it can be seen from as far away as possible. The tape “type” should also be as bright as possible. (example – type 1 bright, type 3 brighter, type 5 even brighter, and so on)
Studies show that bright fluorescent lime yellow is the brightest and most conspicuous color. This is true day and night. The image above is an example of how bright fluorescent lime is. Notice the nice contrast that you get with the red. (both colors are reflective)
Note – With that being said let me just mention that white is brighter but it does not stand out as a conspicuous color. It tends to blend in with white backgrounds, car headlights, street lights, the moon, etc..
Fluorescent Lime is a very unique color and is not common in what we see day to day or at night. Fluorescent Orange is also like this. Both of these colors get peoples attention because they are unusual and bright. Of these two colors the brightest would be the lime. The image above shows fluorescent lime and orange panels. Notice that you still have nice contrast and both colors are very bright at night.
As an offsetting color for fluorescent lime you would want to select a red, a fluorescent orange or a standard orange. By alternating these colors you would provide the highest contrast using the most conspicuous colors. This makes you visible and safe both day and night.
In summary, to be seen day and night use red and fluorescent lime reflective material or orange and fluorescent lime material. When placing the panels on a yellow or red vehicle you can change the lime to a white and then use orange or red as the offset.
Steven Cole (Economics, MBA – University of West Florida , Business & Innovation – Stanford University) 25 years of experience in the reflective safety business. Specializing in accident reduction for vehicles through increased visibility.