Effects of LED Roadway Lighting on Driver Sleep Health and Alertness

Roadway lighting sources are being converted from high pressure sodium (HPS) and other high-intensity discharge (HID) luminaires to light emitting diode (LED) luminaires because LEDs are generally more energy efficient and may offer better visibility. LEDs with a correlated color temperature (CCT) greater than 3000K often have higher blue content in their spectrum (460 to 480 nm) than HPS lamps. Light in this wavelength affects the production of the hormone melatonin, which regulates the human circadian rhythm. In June 2016, the American Medical Association (AMA) issued a report (The Council on Science and Public Health Report 2-A-16, Human and Environmental Effects of Light Emitting Diode (LED) Community Lighting) noting that roadway lighting with higher blue content, such as the light produced by LEDs with higher CCTs, could adversely suppress melatonin and affect the sleep health of people exposed to it. However, a link between melatonin suppression and LED lighting at roadway levels has never been reported. There could, however, be an advantage to the blue content in the LEDs. Because the blue content in LEDs has the potential to suppress melatonin, then by extension it may have the potential to make drivers more alert. In order to design LED roadway lighting that minimizes any negative impacts on drivers, research is needed to understand the relationship between LED roadway lighting and driver sleep health and alertness. The objectives of this research were to (1) evaluate the effects of LED roadway lighting on the sleep health and alertness of drivers, with attention to the illuminance, duration, and spectral power distribution (SPD) of the LED lighting; (2) compare these effects to those of (a) high-intensity discharge (HID) lighting and (b) the absence of roadway lighting; and (3) suggest methods to mitigate the effects, if any, of LED roadway lighting on sleep health and alertness. In this research, the term “sleep health” shall be construed to mean circadian disruption.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $399775
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 05-23

  • 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:

    Harrigan, Edward

  • Performing Organizations:

    Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg

    208 Patton Hall
    Blacksburg, VA  United States  24061
  • Principal Investigators:

    Bhagavathula, Rajaram

  • Start Date: 20180701
  • Expected Completion Date: 20210331
  • Actual Completion Date: 20210331
  • Source Data: RiP Project 41601

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01634648
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 05-23
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: May 12 2017 1:00AM