The Ambulance Visibility website is back online

You may have noticed that the AV website was not displaying on the web.

Unfortunately without any advice, the hosting provider attempted to migrate the website to a new server. All of the content and the site back-up were lost during the ill-fated move, especially as the site had been backed-up independently to prevent this sort of failure.

I apologise to everyone for the inconvenience and thanks to Lee at Webgrow the site is now back up and fully functional.

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New high-visibility patrol cars for Western Australia Police

WA Police (WAPOL) recently announced the completion of a project to upgrade the markings, warning lights and sirens of not just the Highway Patrol cars, but all vehicles in the fleet. The project team reviewed current best worldwide practice and translated the findings onto their vehicles.

Western Australia Police high-visibility patrol vehicle

Old and new Western Australia Police high-visibility patrol vehicles

While a few police forces in Australia have begun to affix fluorescent colours to their vehicles, WAPOL is the first to fully integrate a multicolour Hi-Vis marking scheme with state-of-the-art LED warning lights and sirens with an expanded frequency range.

The new Hi-Vis markings displayed on a range of WAPOL vehicles

The new Hi-Vis fluorescent markings displayed on a range of WAPOL vehicles


Posted in Emergency vehicles, Fluorescent colours, High Visibility, Markings, Police, Reflective, Uncategorized, Warning Lights | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Conflicting emergency vehicle pattern markings merge to create camouflage effects

Many earlier posts have described the problems associated with affixing a range of different patterned markings (especially rear chevrons) onto emergency vehicles.                 The problem is made even worse when a number of local agencies independently decide to display different pattern styles to brand their vehicles in an attempt to highlight their agency’s individuality. It is only when all the different vehicles pull-up alongside one another that the full impact of the pattern confusion becomes obvious.

Pattern markings conflict to induce camouflage effects at an accident scene

Pattern markings conflict to induce camouflage effects at an accident scene

The image above image clearly demonstrates the conflict effects with a mixture of diagonal chevrons in red/white or yellow/red colours alongside the bands of blue and red chequers. The patterns are so strong that they continuously distract the observer by pulling and drawing the eye to different areas within the scene. This effect makes the outline and shape of each vehicle much harder to discern. Subsequently the observer’s ability to make sense of the scene is greatly reduced. The landscape background shown is plain but another more complex streetscape littered with cars, signs and buildings would visually complicate the entire scene even further.

The only stand-out elements are the plain yellow-green fluorescent arch on the rear of the fire appliance and the orange sill stripe on the ambulance, both of which reinforce the important visual strength of solid fluorescent coloured markings on vehicles. The image also demonstrates the weakness of red/white chevrons when compared to the universally accepted colour combination of red and yellow chevrons angled at forty five degrees.

Enough said for today……..try to stick to simple solid colour designs for vehicle markings and other drivers approaching an accident scene will appreciate your effort.

Posted in Ambulance, Chevrons, Emergency vehicles, EMS, Fire, Fluorescent colours, High Visibility, Markings, Police, Reflective, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fluorescent marking creep is slowly improving the conspicuity of Australia’s emergency vehicles

It has taken many years but fluorescent markings are finally beginning to appear on more and more police, fire and ambulance vehicles around the country. While the response vehicles of some emergency services still wear the traditional Sillitoe scheme or a stylised variation of the checkered pattern, their vehicles are slowly being enhanced by the addition of fluorescent stripes and panels – usually in yellow-green or red/orange colour schemes.

HiVis MC

Colour, pattern or lighting creep refers to the gradual conversion over time of new marking or lighting styles onto emergency vehicles.  Creep is seen when agencies that have previously rejected changes to their markings begin to display small modifications to the colours/patterns/warning lights on vehicles or alternatively they fully adopt new designs that are similar to other national or international agencies. The changes are usually slow but often driven by changing attitudes within an agency or an acceleration of the popularity of a design. Occasionally a rapid industry-wide cascade (rather than a creep) can be brought about by revised regulations e.g. chevron markings in the US after NFPA 1901 and NFPA 1917 were published or the recent change to yellow body colour + Battenburg markings on St John’s ambulances in New Zealand.

Continue reading

Posted in Ambulance, Battenburg, Emergency vehicles, EMS, Fluorescent colours, High Visibility, Markings, Motorcycles, Police, Reflective | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

New Perth County EMS Sprinter ambulances

Michael Crawley from Perth County, Ontario has sent me some photos of their new Sprinter ambulances with high-visibility fluorescent/reflective markings.

“We now have 3 Mercedes sprinters in our fleet and have had numerous positive comments about the graphics. Just wanted to thank you again for all your help……”

Thanks for the great photos Michael. You can follow the Perth County EMS Twitter feed at

Perth County EMS Canada - Sprinter Ambulance - High Visibility - Rear viewPerth County EMS Canada - Sprinter Ambulance - High Visibility - Side view


Perth County EMS Canada - Sprinter Ambulance - High Visibility - Front View

Posted in Ambulance, Emergency vehicles, EMS, Fluorescent colours, Markings, Reflective | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Australia Post trades up to high conspicuity lime-green motorcycles

Australia Post recently announced that all new ‘Postie’ delivery motorcycles would be coloured lime green and white with fluorescent green mail panniers. The iconic ‘red rattler’ 90cc and later 110cc motorcycles were legendary for their toughness and durability with retired postie bikes always being hot items at disposal auctions. The posties are also decked out in fluorescent green to further enhance rider safety. Australia Post is also using lime green electric bicycles for inner city postal rounds….well done Australia Post.

AP bike5Australia Post motorbike

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Get out of the way: An article on the history of ambulance warning lights


This article was published on Gizmodo Australia in early June and provides a brief history of warning lights before discussing the important research undertaken by Michael Flannagan and his associates at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute. I have discussed Michael’s comprehensive work on emergency vehicle warning lights before in this blog and as part of my PowerPoint presentations. This article is a gentle introduction to the raw research which is a highly recommended read and available from the AV website or by direct download using the links below

Read the Gizmodo article by Rachel Swaby – HERE

Color Identification in the Visual periphery: Consequences of Color coding of vehicle signals – Sivak, M. Flannagan, M. Miyokawa, T. Traube, E. – UMTRI, July 1999 CLICK HERE

Effects of Warning Lamp Color and Intensity on Driver Vision*
Flannagan, M.A Blower, D.A Devonshire, J. – UMTRI, October 2008

Posted in Ambulance, AV Reference Library, Emergency vehicles, EMS, Fire, Police, Warning Lights | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment