Visibility Driving Safety

My friend referred me to a harness shop for some tack repair. While there I admired some great looking flags in the “bike flag” catagory. They had plenty of white reflective material on the edges and center of a lime green fabric with a red and white pole. He also had a flashing yellow strobe light on a pole for carriages. Must be an LED type bulb, small but very bright!

He is Amish and they had a terrible wreck just down the road last spring with people killed. He said they are all thinking of ways to be MUCH more visible driving their carriages. Country road speed limit is 55mph and most folks travel the speed limit in their cars.

I agreed with him about being visible in carriages and shared our use of face stripes in lime green, reflective material. I made these, they run between the browband and noseband. Visible at all times, head up or down. I had rejected striping on the breastcollars because the head might lower to cover it up. We do have lime reflective material on the neck yoke of the two vehicles we drive most.

He showed me some very tasteful reflective browbands he had made with the silvery reflective material. They looked like gently sparkly show browbands in daylight. I am sure they really lit up in headlights though! My thought was that lacking the green color, they just were not obvious enough to oncoming traffic. We have gotten a lot of comments on our green stripes from various people. They were a big hit at the National Drive in October, with folks asking where we got them or looking to make some for their horses. I believe the lime color is key to being seen from the front at road speeds. I plan to take a photo of our horses when I return to get our tack. Sometimes seeing is believing, rather than trying to explain why lime is perhaps a better choice than the grey/white in daylight hours.

Most of us have our reflective triangle in back with some reflectors on the carriage too. Maybe even the blinky bike lights. Have you considered adding side reflective devices on the horse and vehicle? Keep in mind that universally YELLOW markings are on the sides. Red shows the back corner and rear END of a vehicle to allow other drivers to know it has fully gone by them. Putting red reflectors in other locations could have them thinking you are completely past them, when you are not.

Granted most of us drive in daylight hours, think we ARE quite visible. But at car speeds they may not recognize our profile from the front or rear. I just think if we “help” car drivers see us better, that is good for all of us.

We people all wear the safety reflective vests when on the road. Orange when deer season starts, on thru winter. Then the lime green vests after snow is gone and in summer until deer season starts again. The lime green just does not show well against snow, so orange is better then.

We added our lime face stripes on the bridles, a bike flag sticking out to the left side and a good size yellow sign saying “Please pass wide and slow” off the rear step. We have noticed a definate slowing down by most drivers approaching and passing us. The sideways bike flag keeps cars AWAY from the carriage or risk scratching themselves in a hurry to pass before approaching car arrives! Flag sideways prevents us getting crowded over! I do have to take flag off before entering the barn, too wide for the door.

We drive on the roads because we have a small acreage, the arena gets very boring and we need to do distances to get horses fit, build their wind. We do TRY to get home before dusk, but sometimes it is getting dark early with a storm rolling in, should have turned around earlier. We need to be very visible at all times and if we look like an escaped “road work zone” when headlights hit our reflectors, so be it. Ha ha. I have followed husband home after meeting while coming home as dark comes. I think the reflectors are doing a good job, front and rear. Those funny bobbing lights on 17H horse heads, solid light bar on the neck yoke, gives pause to approaching drivers from a good distance, so they slow down.


@goodhors Great Safety tips!
A friend who also drives minis uses the bright orange safety vest draped across the back of the seat. Makes it more visible than if worn, as we’re seated so low.
Wish I’d seen your face stripes at the Ntl Drive on my 1-day visit.
Sounds brilliant.
As does the sideways flag.
I drive very little on roads, but any extra visibility aid is a help!

Those are some great tips, @goodhors. I must admit, when I started reading your sentence about face stripes, I was thinking on the humans, not on the horses. But doing it on the horses sure makes far more sense.

When I was still driving, I didn’t trust my neighbors enough to drive on the road at night, regardless of how many lights or reflectors I might add. I was lucky then to be able to drive across three properties of five acres each, two of which belonged to contiguous neighbors. I found it was a lot easier with my light gray pony, since I could see him (I didn’t bother with lights since I was always off road). My bay pony would just disappear in front of me.


I spent some time working on the side of highways/roads under OSHA/DOT rules and learned A lot. It is frightening how invisible people and animals are and how close cars come even when you think they see you. In full daylight, in good conditions.
I always wear the same thing that OSHA required me to in that job: class 3 reflective gear. Which translates to creating a full silhouette with a lot of high contrast reflective material. So with the horse and carriage, we need to think about making sure the driver of the oncoming car can see that this is a long object, longer than a bike, and a lot longer than a person, which are the lengths and shapes they are expecting to see. You don’t want the carriage to be visible but the horse not. On a horse and carriage it is hard, but not impossible. As goodhors said, make sure red is on the back and not the sides!
I found ear bonnets in bright orange with a a reflective trim. I’m playing with how to create a better frontal image using the shaft tips and the collar, though haven’t figured out the best set up yet. In my case, I’m not driving a show cart, so I wrapped the shafts in reflective material. The traditional horse brass on the choker strap is swapped for a reflective one.
And so forth. I’m paranoid, but I’ve also lost a good friend who was walking in full daylight, on the sidewalk, on a stretch of road marked for 25mph. He wasn’t wearing safety gear but he was also dressed in what should have been visible clothing.

Do you remember where you found these? Not driving-related, sorry, but my husband has been looking for good visible (orange, but w/reflectivity is even better!) ear bonnets for the search & rescue team he’s on.

Errr…Somewhere on Etsy! I just went looking for them too, because I really need another one and apparently I was an idiot and didn’t bookmark it. I’ve found one possible shop elsewhere ‘ear-me-now-fly-bonnets’ on shopify, but they seem to be sold out of that particular version.

1 Like