The Tri-Color Triangle ™… coming to the tail-end of a tractor or the back of a buggy near you

NEW Police, truckers and motorists awareness survey. Please participate if you have seen these triangles in use on the backs of any Amish buggies. Click here

Incorporating (link)

And now a new development: Bigger is Better (link)DSCN5913 twk big claas wp

From Safety Psychographics

Using “visual psychographics” scientifically for safety

APPLIED PSYCHOGRAPHICS comes to the aid of farmers, motorists and the Amish

The Tri-Color Triangle ™ is a dramatic conspicuity upgrade to the 50-year-old SMV emblem, differing from that because it has a third, high-visibility color that is more visible day and night, plus the center fluorescent orange section is also newly-reflective at night. Added fluorescent-AND-reflective yellow-green stripes and their contrast with the existing standard colors is more visually-arresting both day and night, and, coupled with the center section’s new-found reflectivity, makes this emblem much more visible at night, plus it now at last appears the same at night as it does by day. Using scientifically-proven fluorescent/reflective yellow-green outer stripes with their increased overall area gives the old SMV emblem a much-needed 3-way upgrade in order to stand out to inattentive motorists in today’s higher-speed traffic. Yellow-green of 0.555 micrometer wavelength is the color most stimulating to the eye and its use here finally gives much-needed contrast to the existing orange and red for a safer total visual effect.

An anomaly regarding the T-C T is discussed on the page The curious case of the revisions that involve SMV emblem standards 276.8 and 279.14,” though production and sales march on.

Why reinvent the venerable “tractor triangle?”

Quotes from one in the know:

“While attaining widespread use and institutional acceptance in its (50) years on the road, crash data indicate that the slow-moving vehicle (SMV) emblem may not be meeting the safety needs of either the motoring public or SMV operators. (The article excerpted here) addresses the possibility that the reasons for this include its inconsistent day/night appearance, potential confusion with other roadway symbols, its uncontrolled misuse, and poor driver education.” From the article’s conclusions: “… and perhaps emblem modification (is needed) to make it more iconic* in nature or at least to ensure that it appears the same to approaching drivers in daylight and at night. —Excerpted from an article in the Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health (published by the ASABE),  “Motorist Comprehension of the Slow Moving Vehicle Emblem” by P. M. Garvey… the full text of which can be accessed by members and non-members at this address (link); non-members must pay for access.

(*the T-C T’s modifications stay in the realm of “symbolic” vs. “iconic” by definitions in the article)

Additional quotes from “Farm Tractors — A Living History”:

“But people are often cautious and sometimes cruel toward new ideas. Where a farmer appeared with (then-brand new) rubber tires on his tractor working the field, neighbors stood at the fence and called him ‘sissy’…. To placate the conservative farmers, steel wheels were still optional up through 1940….”

“No sooner was the safety issue (of rollover protection–Deere Roll-Gard) addressed than concern over slow-moving vehicles surfaced. The Automotive Safety Foundation, monitoring the numerous rear-end accidents in which fast-moving automobiles hit slow-moving tractors, funded the creation and subsequent standardization of the fluorescent orange triangle, developed at Ohio State University by agricultural engineering graduate student Kenneth Harkness. During this period, up through 1965–and the decades since then–Webster’s definition of engineering has been a synonym for tractor development. Yet it has been the goal of everyone… to practice engineering:
“The science concerned with putting scientific knowledge to practical uses.”

–Randy Leffingwell, 1995

Bonus quotes:
“Country people tend to consider that they have a corner on righteousness and to distrust most manifestations of cleverness….”

–Edward Hoagland, as quoted on the Writer’s Almanac

“…caricature of (a farming state) as an ecosystem of rural rigidity.”

–Robert Draper in the New York Times


3 tri color and 2 reg WP sizeBackground information on the modification

The intrinsic efficacy of the Tri-Color Triangle ™ is because of the increased visual impact that the product has over the existing SMV emblems and standards. Its more effective impact gives an increased margin of safety for agricultural and construction equipment and horse-drawn equipment operators utilizing it and the motoring public that is exposed to it in traffic. This greater impact comes from new stimulating colors, larger overall surface area, more reflective area at night and no difference between daytime and nighttime appearances. With an approximately 1 1/5 x increase in height yielding about a 1 1/2 x increase in total surface area, the first version of new emblem is easier to see from a greater distance and occupies a greater percentage of visual real estate at a farther distance than the current standard’s emblem. A second variation in development that wraps the new stripes around the truncated tips gives a bit over 1 3/4 x increase in total area. Modern developments in the practical applications of optics and materials have given us new materials that are both fluorescent and reflective. The very newest reflective materials have been engineered to be substantially more reflective (higher percentage of candlepower returned). The characteristics of degrees of bounce-back reflectivity have been tweaked to be either narrowly-directional (if needed) or nearly-unidirectional (with proprietary materials from certain manufacturers). These better materials give much more reflected light under challenging circumstances of long distances and angles that would have been physically impossible with yesterday’s old red strips and still less than ideal even with today’s more common specs and materials.  The specification of and use of these very newest materials in this emblem will preclude some of what has plagued older-style emblems for years: relatively poor reflectivity and poor angles of effectiveness. Safety Psychographics is continually pursuing its ability to utilize the most effective materials, including those from Europe, given availability and shipping constraints. Engineering comparative testing of these materials help to insure the use of the best materials to be sold to end users. The utilization of 0.555 μm color of yellow-green and fluorescent, the wavelength most stimulating to the eye in daylight, for the added new outer stripes ensures that that part of the emblem will have the greatest chance of being seen and noticed. The juxtaposition of those stripes with the standard fluorescent orange serves up new contrast to stimulate the eye in a psychographics-principle “dazzling” manner. From “The Perceptive Efficiency of the Human Eye as a Function of Wavelength”: “The efficiency curves for the red and green cones cross (i.e., are exactly equal) for radiation of wavelength about 0.56 μm. When the eye sees 0.56 μm radiation it stimulates the red and green cones about equally. The visual perception of near equal stimulation of the red and green cones is yellowness.( The consequence from this physiological fact is that this tint of yellow-green color at this specific wavelength is perceived as the brightest color possible. Its inclusion in this new design is in the context of being an additional type of “conspicuity striping” (comparable to what has been required for some years now for the trucking and railroad industries) and will serve to update the hoary SMV emblem for effective modern use. The additional quality of these new stripes being reflective besides fluorescent, along with the change of the center triangle section’s going from currently being strictly fluorescent to also being reflective in sum will give the new emblem the quality of appearing the same by night as it does by day. Research in and long-standing familiarity with “visual psychographics” principles (this being the field of the psychological application of graphic design principles as opposed to the “psychological demographics” usage of the word) and relevant aspects of pure and applied optic science, plus longstanding experience in the agricultural transportation field have allowed basic observations and insights to come together to create the concept embodied here. Relatively-new advances in specific highway signage materials deemed fit to utilize for this product have made for a more nearly-ideal combination of concept, design and materials. The agricultural highway transportation, self-propelled construction vehicles and horse-drawn vehicles markets will all benefit, along with the general motoring public in contact with them, from this development as to the greater margin of safety inherent when used properly and as intended. The Tri-Color Triangle ™ is out of its initial development and prototype stage and is for sale. Details including ordering information are on this page. As this product obviously builds upon the basics of the current SMV emblem, standardized by ASABE, only the new aspects are deemed proprietary. It and its variants are under U.S. Patent Applied For status protection as well as being copyrighted. —————————————————————————————————————————————–

wp IMG_7456x e combo fluor orange + yel-grn

The combination of fluorescent orange and fluorescent yellow-green certainly seems to go together well where visibility is critical.

wp IMG_7774 combo fluor work clothes The Tri-Color Triangle ™ has been chosen by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers as one of the 50 most innovative designs in engineering products for agriculture for 2014 (awarded in 2015). Details on this page: ————————————————————————

A new Questions and Answers page is now on this site to answer general and specific questions that have been raised by concerned parties about the Tri-Color Triangle ™:


The Tri-Color Triangle (tm) compared with other SMV emblems
The Tri-Color Triangle ™ compared with other triangles

The picture above illustrates how the Tri-Color Triangle ™ compares under flash photography with a conventional SMV emblem (at right) and 2 non-standard triangles (details on this page).

The following are various field testing photographs showing the dramatic increase in visibility of the Tri-Color Triangle ™ as compared to standard SMV emblems.

equipment example #1 with standard SMV emblem equipment example #1 with Tri-Color Triangle ™ in addition to standard SMV emblem equipment example #2 with Tri-Color Triangle ™ in addition to standard SMV emblem equipment example #3 with standard SMV emblem equipment example #3 with Tri-Color Triangle ™ equipment example #4 with standard SMV emblem equipment example #4 with Tri-Color Triangle ™ equipment example #5 with standard SMV emblem equipment example #5 with Tri-Color Triangle ™ in addition to standard SMV emblem

TriColor TriangleConspicuity is the KeyGotta Go Green… to be Seen


The following are examples of deficiencies of the standard SMV emblem as found in various usages in the field — some from lack of contrast; others from lack of maintaining emblems in proper condition.

After those pictures are shots of standard SMV emblems in good shape and properly-mounted, plus, a buggy mock-up of the Tri-Color Triangle ™, similar stripes in use on other equipment and, lastly, this new emblem under development. The color of the equipment is a built-in problem for obtaining the most effective contrast of the standard emblem against it in order to stand out best for the motorist. Improper mounting of the permanent (top) emblem off to one side compounds visibility problems when a single standard (or new style) emblem is used alone. A closer view showing the problems of contrast occurring especially when using a standard emblem with equipment of a similar color. Improper mounting off to one side compounds visibility problems. The use of the Tri-Color Triangle ™ here would help to solve this lack of contrast problem, though perhaps equipment makers might see fit to not paint equipment in colors such as this orange. Multiple problems aggravated by emblem and paint upkeep issues. Improper mounting of the emblem off to one side compounds visibility problems more… if one could even call this emblem visible in such a condition. Identifiability issues are occurring here as most of the surrounding (and somewhat contrasting) red stripes are missing. Correctly identifying this piece of equipment as a slow moving vehicle would be an even bigger problem at night with only one strip of reflective material left. The emblem is even less effective for its being mounted off to one side. This is an example of a condition problem for the emblem, showing a large portion of the triangle missing and the non-existent fluorescence. Some equipment has been observed by myself as having only the red stripes left out of the whole emblem, leaving the motorist to extrapolate the meaning of it being a SMV… hopefully in time to slow down.

This array of equipment illustrates the conditions of the emblems going from good to bad to worse. The motorist is lucky in that the emblem in the best shape is visible above the relatively-ineffective ones, though it is the furthest away from the rear. Farmers can maintain the necessary fluorescence in their emblems by 1., buying the latest versions of the ASABE number on them available and 2., by covering the emblems with sun-blocking material when stored or used outside in the fields… uncovering them only before travel on the roads, then covering them back up until road use the next time. Though this would entail extra work and remembering to do so, it would ensure that the fluorescence required for their effectiveness (and required by law) would be there to be seen. An undersize triangle of questionable fluorescence that doesn’t even make contact with the stripes is not affording these Amish passengers the level of protection that they need. Another problem with many buggies of this community is the usage of a type of SMV emblem that has a center triangle of a more reddish color–bordering on violet–that is plain plastic… not fluorescent in the least. Apparently some irresponsible manufacturer has convinced folks that their emblems “solve” the problem of the fluorescent orange fading over time and has sold them an emblem that relies on shape alone for protection. The off-color and the lack of fluorescence puts all of those folks at risk unnecessarily. Education on optical science, visibility and proper materials is needed to avoid needless tragedy. October 2014: Investigation in the Northern Indiana Amish community has shed light upon the situation of the manufacture and distribution of this “off-spec” triangle. Details on this page (link). While this buggy owner undoubtedly thinks that his apparent custom treatment of the SMV emblem is clever and more effective, it might be justineffective enough (under worst-case circumstances) to bring needless tragedy upon himself and his passengers.  The total visual mass of the emblem needs to be in one place: an intact emblem. Separating it into two sections diminishes that aspect that could be the difference for an older motorist with cataracts. Also, as the integrity of the reflectors around the triangle is gone, the same possible lack of recognition could take place at night… compounded if the batteries for the lights fail and only the reflectorized surfaces are left to protect the rear. While it may be possible that what is seen here are two whole emblems at the sides that are just temporarily covered in their middles by the center canvas section, the effect at the time of the photo is of an optional safety deficiency. This is an “option” that definitely should be avoided when outfitting buggies. More public education and enforcement is needed on situations like this.

——————-end of ‘deficiencies’ photos————————

Following are photographs of proper standard emblems, related psychographic design examples and the Tri-Color Triangle ™ in development. An Amish buggy with an intact, conventional, properly-mounted standard SMV emblem.  The fluorescence is bright and up to current legal standards… no reddish-violet plain plastic triangle section here. The only problem is what plagues all current-standard emblems: the single main color–orange–is not quite as eye-catching as such a color may have been back in the 1950s and 1960s when the presence of such type colors was a rarity anywhere. Additionally, orange is closer to the end of the spectrum that is less stimulating to the eye (red even more so and it provides no contrast against the buggy’s black color ). Brown is only a couple of notches away on the color wheel. A buggy with a Tri-Color Triangle ™ prototype.  Needless to say, the increase in overall area, visibility and contrast will impart a greater margin of safety to this vulnerable community of people who share the roads with we “English”… who have no desire to unintentionally hit these fragile conveyances for their current relative lack of effective ability to stand out properly in traffic. A collection of effective standard emblems mounted on ammonia wagons. This shows yet another mounting position that is an alternative to decals mounted directly on the back of the tank (though one here does feature that). Example #1 of the usage of fluorescent yellow-green stripes on the back of a Michiana fire truck for better visibility. Example #2 of the usage of fluorescent yellow-green stripes on the back of another Michiana fire truck for better visibility. Example #3 of the usage of fluorescent/reflective yellow-green and fluorescent/reflective orange stripes on the backs of  phone company trucks in Michiana for better visibility. Example #4: close-up of the usage of fluorescent/reflective yellow-green and fluorescent/reflective orange stripes on the back of a phone company truck in Michiana for better visibility. Example #5: another close-up of the usage of fluorescent/reflective yellow-green and fluorescent/reflective orange stripes on the back of another phone company truck in Michiana for better visibility. The second prototype of the Tri-Color Triangle ™ under construction when it was being envisioned as just a 2-color triangle: orange and yellow-green. The first iteration of the 2nd prototype, at right, when it was just a bi-colored triangle. Though this design is still thought by myself to be a ‘purer’ and more visible upgrade to the standard emblem for its greater area of yellow-green, it was later suggested that perhaps the standard emblem’s red stripes were still needed because some motorists would possibly not make the connection between the old style and the new. This intermediate stage’s design is still copyrighted. Another different, earlier test version of a possible emblem upgrade is shown at the left. In the engineering sign shop late in the game awaiting the last sample sheeting from the manufacturer with the brightest, most reflective material. This material is to be reflective from the widest angle available and the brightest head-on; a competing manufacturer complained that it was “too bright and reflective.” The brighter and more reflective will do just fine for this in-motion safety product usage. Red and fluorescent/reflective orange samples seen at rear. An array of prototypes, mock-ups and standard SMV emblems. At top left is the first prototype that was field-tested in years past to explore the effectiveness and visibility of readily-available fluorescent yellow-green material over the red stripes of a standard emblem. Top middle is the second prototype of the Tri-Color Triangle ™ (still lacking reflective/fluorescent center triangle material). Top right is the patent office mock-up. Bottom left is a copyrighted variation of the Tri-Color Triangle ™ that is under consideration for prototype construction and field testing. Bottom right is a standard existing emblem. As of late September 2014, the proprietary wide reflecting-angle fluorescent orange and fluorescent yellow-green sheeting not previously available in this country has finally become available for construction of the pilot run of both variations of the Tri-Color Triangle ™: the first version with just the new outer stripes and the second version with the stripes wrapping around the truncated tips. As of late December 2014, unforeseen samples and shipping delays had prompted the usage for the time being of materials from an alternate manufacturer that, while totally acceptable, are not what was originally intended for use on the Tri-Color Triangle. It was felt that getting the product into the marketplace sooner instead of waiting on the originally-intended material was in the public’s best interest. The overall increased visual mass of reflective material still greatly outweighs the small footprint of the original SMV emblem’s modest hollow red triangle. (if by chance the host of this webpage, WordPress, has piggybacked an ad onto the end of this page, please know that it and its sponsor have nothing to do with Safety Psychographics or the Tri-Color Triangle ™)


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