Performance and Contextual Analysis of Roadway Lighting Systems

Roadway lighting is a common countermeasure used to increase visibility at night or in poor weather conditions and may offer substantial safety benefits for all road users. With the advent of LED and adaptive roadway lighting systems, lighting characteristics can be adjusted as a function of need as well as to control for unintended effects. These systems are believed to provide effective safety performance potentially at a lower cost and energy requirements as compared to traditional sodium based lighting systems.   Nevertheless, decisions regarding the appropriate level of light to provide a given freeway, highway rest area or interchange, or urban streetscape are dependent upon localized characteristics, climate, and circumstances. What may seem like the ideal light level to support the safety of vehicular users may be less beneficial or even harmful to vulnerable road users and/or nearby environmental and/or community resources. Furthermore, the qualities of light, such as the color temperature, spectrum, uniformity or degree of glare may also interfere with producing safety outcomes for all users. This creates a need to strike an appropriate balance to maximize safety benefits while controlling for and avoiding harmful impacts, where needed.   While the AASHTO Highway Safety Manual and other literature provide guidelines to support decisions on the appropriate application of light for different contexts, the industry could use more robust information and analysis tools to assist in decision making over the appropriate quantity and quality of light to provide for different environments, contexts and purposes.   Research is needed to produce guidelines for agencies seeking to balance the costs and benefits of different lighting strategies for a given facility, including but not necessarily limited to procedures and methods to identify, measure and analyze the various benefits and disbenefits of lighting strategies under consideration for a given highway or site to inform decision making.   The objectives of this research are to:   (1) Identify and document the potential costs and benefits of the applications of different overhead roadway lighting strategies on roadway users and stakeholders. This would include considerations of fixed, adaptable, continuous, or targeted lighting with respect to a given highway or site. Considerations of the different uses and effects of lighting in rural and urban contexts are desired, as well as lighting targeted to highway facilities such as rest areas and interchanges. This would include a thorough review of safety benefits for different users as well as potential negative impacts of roadway lighting on the surrounding environment, communities and affected activities such as night sky viewing. The research will not compare or recommend proprietary lighting products or systems for a given application.   (2) Develop a procedural framework for state DOTs to use to identify, analyze and predict the potential benefits and costs of different lighting scenarios for a given project study area. This framework would include the identification and application of appropriate data inputs, including internal agency, community and stakeholder input, to inform a comprehensive analysis of costs and benefits of different lighting strategies. Development of software or a website is not requested and cannot be supported by NCHRP.   (3) Develop one or more decision tools to improve agencies’ ability to evaluate specific lighting needs, design and implementation challenges for a given location or strategy.   These resources may be compiled into a single comprehensive report or provided as separate deliverables as determined appropriate by the proposers.   


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $650000
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Weeks, Jennifer

  • Start Date: 20220207
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01835654
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: 05-25
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: Feb 8 2022 4:29PM