Child Pedestrian Injury Interventions

Retro-reflective Clothing


Risk of pedestrian injuries is increased during the twilight and night hours. This increased risk is only moderate for children, since they generally are not walking during night hours. Prevention of pedestrian injuries during night hours has been approached in a number of different ways. One is to increase the amount of street lighting. This is expensive and may not be practical in rural areas. Another alternative has been the use of retro-reflective clothing, or special retro-reflective patches on clothing. These devices have been only evaluated in laboratory settings; none have been evaluated in real world settings.

No new articles to include in review, updated 2001.

Review of retro-reflective clothing interventions:


Shinar, 1985

Study design and target population

Non-randomized controlled trial

40 adult volunteer drivers.


Comparison of different types of clothing and different types of retro-reflective materials, combined with varying the level of expectancy of the driver to having pedestrian appear in road


The distance at which the pedestrian was detected


Retro-reflective tag increased distance at which pedestrian was detected from 145 meters for dark clothing to 259 meters for the tag. However, best detection was with the tag and when the driver excepted to see pedestrian; if the driver did not expect to see pedestrian, tag made little difference.

Study quality and conclusions

The retro-reflective tag would be expected to have little effect on detecting an unanticipated pedestrian.

Generalizability to actual conditions is unknown.

Summary of studies on retro-reflective clothing:

The single study of retire-reflective clothing indicates little effect when the driver does not anticipate the pedestrian, which would be the normal state of affairs.

Recommendations on retro-reflective clothing:

At this time, there are no data to support their use and we cannot recommend that they be promoted.