Ambulance Visibility
Emergency vehicle conspicuity research on livery, warning lights and
high visibility markings - photos, technical information & newsletters by John Killeen  

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Ideal livery model for emergency vehicles


“The ideal livery outlined below may possibly exist in a few cities or towns around the world, but I am yet to find a picture of that elusive vehicle” 

Detailed Version with images – CLICK
Short Version – read on below 
Experience has shown that a number of organisational factors including tradition, cultural loyalties, differing points-of-view (and often large project teams) may delay or interfere in the construction of any ideal vehicle. It is a given outcome that not all the points raised in the specification below will finally make it onto any emerging vehicle design – but you can certainly strive to achieve it. 
This specification is made up of guidelines that suit the Australian environment and these same guidelines may well work for emergency services in other parts of the world. Some regions where there are heavy snowfalls might opt for solid red fluorescent/reflective coloured panels or the emergency services in the UK will continue to use their battenburg pattern. Either way, the human visual recognition factors relating to visibility & conspicuity remain unchanged. 
In general terms it is the cultural influences of each region or country that produce the variations in livery designs. 
An example of cultural difference in livery signage is that the accepted graphic symbol for ambulance organisations vary between countries. Some Australian states display the Maltese Cross while some of the other states do not. The Star of Life is used in the US, the Red Cross (Cruz Roja) in Spain or it may be the Red Crescent in the Middle East. 
Some examples
In Australia we continue to use white vehicles for valid reasons, despite the well-proven safety advantages of switching to a yellow/green paint. The UK on the other hand has begun to change ambulances to RAL 1016 over recent years but Metropolitan Police cars are leased and are now purchased in silver to increase their resale value. Police organisations in the US are beginning to return to the black & white livery. This is based not just on tradition, but on the growing belief that there is greater public recognition of the black & white police colours.
Please read the guidelines summary. Consider the points made and think carefully the individual consequences in relation to your requirements. Go on to develop a vehicle livery that best suits your particular organisational needs. As usual, any questions, feedback or comments on livery and markings are welcome. 
What then would we include if we want to create the IDEAL emergency vehicle livery? 
A summary of the livery and marking guidelines.    
  • Yellow/green body colour
  • Fluorescent-reflective markings 
  • Reflective outline markings
  • Minimimal text markings
  • Design graphics and signage so they cover only a small percentage of the vehicle body
For more detailed information about livery contact John Killeen
Ambulance Visibility –


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