ÖAMTC test: Many high-visibility vests are defective

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The ÖAMTC and its partner organizations examined 14 high-visibility vests with regard to their reflectiveness. The result is sobering: 30 percent of the models do not come close to fulfilling their purpose. ÖAMTC technician Steffan Kerbl: “High-visibility vests can save lives – if they work as they should.

Defective vests, on the other hand, are life-threatening because, in the worst case scenario, you only realize that you are not being seen when it is too late.” This applies to all road users: car drivers, for example. E.g. getting out in the event of a breakdown, pedestrians, cyclists, children - seeing and being seen from one another is essential for all of them.

14 high-visibility vests for children and adults from online retailers were tested. “First, we carried out a quick test using a reference card to check whether the reflectance intensity of the reflective elements – often also called 'light strips' – corresponds to the legal standard. This was the case in nine of the 14 models, the rest did not reflect nearly enough light to meet the standard,” explains Kerbl. A further examination in a certified light laboratory confirmed the results of the rapid test - only a child's vest that had previously failed passed the more precise test under laboratory conditions.

How well does my vest reflect? ÖAMTC recommends self-testing

When buying a vest, you should definitely make sure that there is a reference to the standardization (EN ISO 20471) - usually a look at the sewn-in label is enough. When ordering online, ÖAMTC expert Steffan Kerbl advises reading the product description carefully - if the standardization is not specified there, you should look elsewhere.

Regardless of whether you already have one, bought it online or in a brick-and-mortar store: If you want to know whether your own high-visibility vest has enough brightness, you should try it yourself. Kerbl: “If you point a flashlight or smartphone light at head height directly at the safety vest, it should reflect bright white at a distance of around three meters. Defective models, on the other hand, hardly shine brighter than a white sheet of paper.”

Pedestrians in high-visibility vests (Photo: Schwenk/ÖAMTC).
Pedestrians in high-visibility vests (Photo: Schwenk/ÖAMTC).