Wearing reflective material is important because it alerts others around you to your presence at night, as well as in other low-light conditions, and helps maintain your safety.

From the diagram below you can clearly see that if you are wearing dark clothing at night you are only visible up to 25m. Even if you are wearing white clothes at night you are still only visible up to 40m. That means that a vehicle travelling at an average speed will be unable to stop (even with an emergency break) in time to prevent a collision. Wearing reflective clothing allows you to be seen up to 140m, which helps to ensure that the vehicle is able to break in good time to prevent a collision.

Why is it important to wear reflective material?

Fluorescent materials work where there is a source of natural sunlight. They appear brighter than the same coloured non-fluorescent material and give increased visibility to the wearer during the day and at dusk. They are typically used in conjunction with retroreflective materials to provide the wearer with both day and nighttime visibility.

Retroreflective materials return light in the direction of the light's source. In the case of a moving vehicle, this allows the driver to see the light being reflected from the retroreflective material on a person's garment. They are most effective at nighttime and under low-light level conditions.

  • Daylight conditions

    Daylight conditions

  • Dust conditions

    Dusk conditions

  • Nighttime conditions

    Nighttime conditions



Great retroreflective design not only helps wearers be detected, but also recognized as humans. Studies have shown that motorists react faster when they recognise a human shape, as opposed to an object, in front of them. To take advantage of this increased recognition in low light conditions, retroreflective material can be incorporated into garments in ways that help motorists recognize you as a person. Two common ways to help increase recognition are:

Biomotion: highlighting motion points and joints to show humanistic movement.
Human Form Outline: creating a 'wireframe' of the body to show the human shape via retroreflected light.

Try out the biomotion configurator to see the difference

Which parts of the body should be visible? (3M body language concept)

Although there are specific tools on the market that help assess garment compliance to standards by measuring reflective values, they are typically expensive.

3M, however, offers a simple and cost-effective alternative, the 3M visibility standard. This tool consists of 3 reflective samples with different retroreflection values: 500R (new condition), 130R (still compliant to ISO 20471) and 30R (no longer compliant to ISO 20471). It’s a simple test - take a lamp (or 3M Lightvision glasses), hold it next to your eye and compare the standard with the reflective stripes of your garment.

Yes you can, although at 3M we would advise against repair of any 3M™ Scotchlite™ Reflective Material Transfer Films except for the segmented 5600 Series Fire Coat Comfort Trim. Should your 5600 Series Fire Coat Trim become damaged, you can heat the damaged area up to 140°C with a professional heat gun. Next, remove the damaged segment with tweezers. Position and fix the replacement segments to the fabric. Laminate in accordance with substrate-specific manufacturer’s instructions and, after cooling down to room temperature, remove the protective liner.

3M™ Scotchlite™ Reflective Materials maintain their retroreflective performance after repeated washes. Different products, however, are certified for minimum washing cycles according to ISO 6330 (Domestic wash) and ISO 15797 (Industrial wash). Wash instructions are provided in the Product Bulletins for each product.

3M Brownwood is the global manufacturing plant for all 3M™ Scotchlite™ Reflective Materials. Key to the success of the products manufactured at Brownwood is that all stages of the production chain are undertaken on site – from the use of 3M’s own glassbeads, to vapour coating, coating and curing through to product testing.

3M also has a converting facility at Wroclaw (Poland) where many products are slit specifically for the European market.

To ensure your garment has the original and authentic retroreflective material, look for the 3M™ Scotchlite™ Reflective Material hangtag or label. We provide all our partners, at no cost, with paper hangtags and labels that can be sewn into apparel, accessories, footwear and bags to ensure peace-of-mind for wearers.