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Illuminating the way we see


Workers, runners, kids, cyclists — everyone — needs to be seen. Help increase your visibility to nearby motorists with 3M™ Scotchlite™ Reflective Material.

Factors that can affect visibility

  1. Needing more light to see as we age
    Seeing becomes more challenging as we age. After the age of 20, a person’s need for
    illumination doubles every 13 years. For example, by age 59, a person will need up to eight times as much light to see the same level of detail as they did at age 20. This has critical implications for the safety of pedestrians, construction workers, law enforcement  personnel and others as they share the road with drivers.
  2. Visual systems that affect how we see
    It’s easy to believe that we see everything clearly and in full colour. However, Figure 1 compares the way we think we see versus the way we really see. We have two distinct visual systems: foveal vision and peripheral vision. In the picture below on the right, you will see the sharpness in the centre of the figure. This represents our foveal vision, while the remainder of the photo, which appears blurry, represents our peripheral vision.
  3. Change blindness
    We all suffer from a condition called “change blindness.” This occurs when we try to take in a whole scene and our brain receives too much information to process at once. Since we can only focus on a narrow area, we may not notice some changes right away, such as a pedestrian unexpectedly darting out into a roadway. While visually scanning our environment, we are purposely turning our gaze from the direction we are looking in towards items that appeared first in our peripheral vision. High-visibility products can be effective because they are more noticeable in our peripheral vision, meaning we are more likely to turn our gaze to see them.
  4. Seeing white clothing at night
    A study evaluated drivers’ responses to obstacles and found that drivers moving only 48 kilometers per hour (30 miles per hour) may travel more than 152 metres (500 feet) in the time it takes to recognize and properly manoeuvre their cars in response to an obstacle. A common misconception is that pedestrians wearing white clothing at night can make it easier for drivers to notice them, and therefore avoid hitting them.

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