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Aiming to improve road and public safety through UK and international standardised design and implementation
Aiming to improve road and public safety through UK and international standardised design and implementation

Vehicle marking research

  • Aiming to improve road and public safety through UK and international standardised design and implementation

Research conducted at Loughborough Design School has improved international road safety by introducing standardised design and implementation of conspicuous markings for high risk vehicles.

The initial research to develop the UK’s first national livery for police vehicles (1991-94) successfully created a scientifically derived and validated motorway patrol vehicle marking standard which enhances conspicuity and recognisability as a police vehicle even from a distance.

Research over the subsequent years looked at police motorcycles, trucks and other specialist road vehicles.

The outcomes of this research have created a standardisation in the markings of police vehicles covering over 25,000 vehicles nationwide. The standardised design – dubbed the Battenberg scheme because of its resemblance to the popular cake – has been further adopted by other UK emergency services.

With respect to the international arena, it was found in Sweden that the livery significantly reduced speeding by vehicles near road maintenance vehicles using the marking scheme whilst in the US, the Federal Emergency Management Agency cited this as the only example of international best practice. In addition, the police forces in Hong Kong and New Zealand have also adopted the markings.

The results of this research into conspicuous vehicle markings have worked not only to standardise marking design within the emergency services, but they have also improved the conspicuity of UK trucks resulting in an amendment to ECE Regulation 104 which relates to retro-reflective markings for vehicles . These outcomes have helped to improve the identification and conspicuity of particular vehicles for road users in the UK’s and beyond.

The livery won the Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors Ergonomics Design Award in 2013 in recognition of its clear demonstration of excellence in ergonomics and human factors application through design.

John Wood, Chairman of the award judges and Executive Chairman of CCD Design and Ergonomics praised the project: “We’re delighted to have a worthy winner of this year’s competition. The livery developed by Loughborough Design School has already been adopted here in the UK, and there is significant overseas interest too.”


  • First national livery 

    The development of the UK’s first national liveries for police cars and police motorcycles

  • Enhanced conspicuity 

    Enhanced conspicuity and recognisability of police vehicles via ‘Battenburg’ markings

  • Speed reduction 

    Significantly reduces the number of speeding vehicles near road maintenance vehicles

  • Best practice 

    Cited as an example of international best practice by the US Federal Emergency Management Agency

  • 25,000 vehicles 

    Standardised police vehicle marking now applied across 25,000 vehicles within the UK

  • Widespread UK Use  

    Battenburg design adoption by other UK emergency services, including ambulance, fire service, HM coastguard, mountain rescue

  • International Use 

    International application of Battenburg design including Sweden, USA, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Czech Republic

  • Better Identification 

    Improved identification of emergency vehicles and trucks on UK roads