Yes, we know ~ what an odd thing to say, but hopefully you’ll soon understand what we mean.
You see, Car and lorry drivers do not differentiate between summer and winter, if they can’t see a rider in summer then they won’t see them in the winter, so they need visual help all year round.
So let’s start with how hi-vis works. The fabrics need daylight to be seen and their function is to bring attention to the wearer! Whereas it’s the reflective piping/strips that reflects headlights allowing the wearer to be seen. Fluorescent fabric only increases visibility in dark conditions if the cars have ultra violet bulbs in their headlights - which very few do.
But, put the two together and you’ve got the ideal garment. One that can help increase visibility in dull light, or even normal light where people glimpse it and slowdown in preparation.
High Visibility apparel is so much a part of our everyday lives with emergency services, cyclists, horse riders’ etc. plus the ‘bobby on the beat’ decked out in the familiar ‘yellow’. This means it’s now somewhat impossible to walk anywhere without seeing someone being ‘visible’.
However, as this apparel is now worn throughout the year, in all seasons and all weathers, we thought it might be of interest to find out a little more about this safety fabric, so we asked Nicola Fletcher, MD of Equisafety Ltd to let us into some of her secrets!
“When designing new items for the range, the first thing I consider is when the product is going to be worn. Different seasons bring with them their own distinctive natural colours and light. Some of these colours can almost be luminescent – the first leaves of Spring are electric green while in Autumn they can be fire orange.
“Horses will blend in to their environment, camouflaging themselves against natural predators, so in order to make them, and us, visible we have to use items which will catch the eye of drivers and passers-by.
“The sun’s ultraviolet rays react with the fluorescent colours therefore increasing daytime visibility. This effect is much stronger in poor light conditions such as in fog, at dawn or towards dusk. Fluorescent coloured fabrics look exceptionally bright because of the way they absorb and emit different kinds of light.
“However, what most people don’t realise is that these fluorescent fabrics do not show up in the dark, or as some presume ‘glow’.
“To be seen at night you must also wear apparel that includes reflective tape. This tape comes in three different types; printed ink, silver tape or plastic tape.
“The microprismatic retro-reflective tape (plastic) uses its millions of tiny glass particles to reflect light back to the source, and is therefore much more visible due to the strength of the reflective light. The printed and silver tape, although also utilising glass particles are classed as reflective, meaning the ‘reflections’ bounce everywhere, but not necessarily back to source. Nevertheless, whichever type is used, as long as it’s on a quality garment it should offer reflective properties. To be sure of being seen the tape should be a minimum of one inch wide.
“When asked what products should be worn, I ask the enquirer to put themselves in the driver’s position. What is the first thing they notice when approaching a horse from the front? The rider and the horse’s head. So use a high visibility noseband or ears and perhaps a neckband on the horse, and a hatband (highest part visible) and jacket, waistcoat/gilet on themselves.
“If the driver is approaching from behind, the most noticeable thing would be rear of the horse and the back of the rider. If rider is wearing products as mentioned earlier they would be visible, so ideally the horse could wear a fluorescent tailguard. A pair, or two, of leg bands is also advisable as the movement of the horse’s legs also catch the eye of the driver, plus a sheet or saddlecloth will also help.
"If the enquirer is not sure about colour, I always advise them to mix the colours up and our new Multi-coloured range from the Charlotte Dujardin Collection will certainly fit the brief here.”