I began researching and writing about color vision deficiency and its effects on transportation in 2009. I’ll be reposting some previously-published articles here with hopes to continue the discussion.
The issue of color vision deficiency been largely ignored by transportation professionals. An estimated 6-12% of the male population has some sort of colorblindness, meaning roughly 5% of road users are affected. The effects are not well documented, but what is known is that color deficient drivers suffer a disadvantage on the roadway.
The topic is important because 90% of what drivers use to navigate is visual, and much of that information is color-specific. Traffic sign types are denoted by color, and pavement markings in the United States have different meanings if they are striped white vs. yellow. Traffic signals’ red and green indications — the two colors most often confused by color-deficient individuals — provide drivers with opposite messages: Red means stop. Green means go.
But to a color-deficient driver, and even more so to a true color blind driver, the colors have little or no meaning.
Grey means stop. Grey means go.
The purpose of Grey Means Go is multi-faceted:
1. Describe the problem and share the small amount of research literature available on color deficiency in transportation and advocate for additional studies on the topic.
2. Share best practices that have been implemented – mostly outside the United States – to help colorblind drivers:
3. Encourage transportation professionals to consider color-deficient road users during design, construction, and operation of transportation facilities.
4. Encourage readers to share their stories of driving with color deficiencies, with the hope of increased community and discussion of this important issue.
How does colorblindness affect you on the road?