California Department of Transportation


Q What's the story with those lime green vests I see some Caltrans workers wearing?

For some time, California and other states have been exploring ways to increase visibility of persons working on highways. The State of Minnesota was the leader in the effort. They experimented with various colors including lime green. The colors were displayed at the Minnesota State Fair -- the largest outdoor 10 day exposition in the world -- to solicit the opinions of regular folks. The conclusion was that the lime green stood out the best. Tests in the field have shown that personnel wearing the lime green vests stand out from the orange equipment. As a result, Caltrans decided to give the lime green vests a try. We ordered 200 vests at a cost of $23 each from the M.L. Kishigo Co. of Santa Ana. The vests were then distributed to our district offices to let our maintenance and construction personnel get a look at them. The decision has been made to go ahead and order the Prison Industry Authority (which supplies many products to state government) to begin producing lime green vests along with the traditional orange vests. Caltrans orders approximately 32,000 vests from Prison Industry Authority a year. Crews will be given the option to wear either the lime green or the orange. Currently, Caltrans has approximately 12,000 green vests in the field along with approximately 26,000 orange vests. The green vests, which are being made by the Prison Industry Authority, cost $16.50 each compared with $13 for the orange. As the number of green vests increases, per unit cost is expected to be comparable to the orange. Lime green vests are currently being used in other states, including Nevada, Arizona and Oregon.