EC project '2 BE SAFE' briefing note for Deliverable 18: Experimental studies on powered two-wheeler visual conspicuity

  • Published: Transport Research Laboratory, TRL report PPR600, 2013
  • Authors: A. Weare and A. Parkes
  • Date Added: 08 Mar 2014
  • Last Update: 25 Oct 2016
  • Format: html


2 BE SAFE is a European project which aimed to examine the behavioural and ergonomic factors contributing to motorcycle crashes by studying rider behaviour and the interactions between motorcycle riders and card drivers. This briefing note summarises the findings from experimental studies examining conspicuity of motorcyclists.


Summary of a range of experimental studies (studies detailed in deliverable 18).

Key Findings:

  • Results show that the complexity of the traffic situation impairs the detection of PTWs (as expected). The detection rate of Powered Two Wheelers in inter-urban road environments was significantly higher than the rates obtained in urban scenarios with a more crowded traffic environment.

  • Results indicate that detection rate of PTWs is substantially lower under dusk time conditions compared to during daytime time conditions, especially when participants were not explicitly instructed to look for PTWs.

  • The results suggest that the traffic environment, including cars with daytime running lights, potentially reduces drivers’ ability to perceive PTWs.

  • Varying riders’ clothing (bright clothes, reflective warning vests, and dark clothes) can enhance riders’ conspicuity in certain situations but the effects are strongly mediated by the background conditions (e.g. lighting conditions) and by the characteristics of the driving situation (e.g. urban vs. rural traffic environment).

  • Variations of specific frontal light configurations were found as promising solutions to enhance PTWs conspicuity. Due to the distinctive features of such a frontal light configuration, it is proposed to provide a unique visual signature/signal pattern for PTWs to other road users, and thus, to facilitate recognition and identification processes.

  • Variation of the light colour (yellow headlights), additional helmet lights (‘Alternating Blinking Light System’ or ABLS) and specific frontal light arrangements with additional lights installed on the front of the PTW (as T shaped, V shaped, FACE design) were considered as possible approaches to implement such a visual signature. Results reveal advantages in terms of a better detection and faster identification for yellow coloured headlights, ABLS and additional lights on the fork and handlebars for motorcycles (T Light configuration).

  • The experiments revealed a beneficial effect of ‘priming’ car drivers to actively look for PTWs in the traffic scene.


Motorcycles, conspicuity, visibility, rider behaviour.


Project deliverables can be downloaded from: