Reducing Rear End Collisions – Reflective Tape for Work Vehicles (Part 1)

Reducing Rear End Collisions and Accidents Involving Commercial Vehicles using High Visibility Reflective Materials – Part 1 – (

Author – Steven Cole – (contact number and email – 850-934-3157 or

According to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Association, each year in the US there are approximately 5.5 million automobile accidents resulting in over 30,000 fatalities.  About 1/3 of these accidents involve rear end collisions. Rear end collisions occur when a driver does not see a slower or stopped vehicle in front of them in time to stop.

The US Department of Transportation reports that there approximately 400,000 accidents involving “large trucks” (GVWR > 10,000 lbs) each year.  5,000 of these accidents result in fatalities, 109,000 result in some type of bodily injury and all resulted in property damage.  Out of these accidents, rear end collisions result in a higher percentage of injuries, fatalities and property damage. Keep in mind that these number are just for large trucks.

Another fact to consider is that about 50% of fatalities occur in the day and about 50% occur at night indicating that day and night time visibility are equally important.

Commercial businesses with fleets of vehicles, Utility Companies, Police Departments and Emergency Service Organizations all have to deal with the cost and liability of highway accidents involving their vehicles.  These types of vehicles are at higher risk because of their tendency to stop near moving traffic.  As you drive each day you will no doubt come across vehicles that you have to slow down and avoid.  These would be ambulances, school buses, fire trucks, police cars, utility trucks, cable company vehicles, delivery trucks, gas company trucks, oil and fuel trucks, snow plows, garbage trucks and other such vehicles.  Seeing these vehicles early can prevent a collision.

Consider this example. Everyone is familiar with the brown UPS delivery vehicles.  They are everywhere.  Lets say that it is getting dark and you round a curve at 30 mph and there before you is a large brown ups van parked in the road. Since the van is brown it blends in very well with the dark night.  What is it that keeps you from hitting the UPS vehicle?  Now lets say you round the same corner and see the same truck but with bright yellow and red alternating stripes marking the rear of the vehicle.  You will now see that vehicle and be able to slow down in time to avoid a collision. The point is, visibility is important.

When tasked with making a fleet of vehicles more visible day and night, there are several factors to consider.  These are –

The colors of the material to be used.
The Intensity or brightness if Reflective material is used.
The Configuration of the tape or panel. (Chevron,Non Slanting,Message, etc..)
The Placement of the material on the vehicle. (location – rear, sides, front)

Part 1 – Introduction – Improving the Visibility of Vehicles
Part 2 – Choosing Colors, Intensity, Contrast
Part 3 – Selecting the Type, Size and Placement