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Publication Number: FHWA-RD-99-074

A Safety Evaluation of UVA Vehicle Headlights

Introduction

This report describes the work performed under Contract DTFH61-95-C-00093, Safety Evaluation of Ultraviolet (UVA)-Activated Fluorescent Roadway Delineation. The objective and scope of the contract were as follows:

CONTRACT OBJECTIVE

The objective of this contract was to determine whether driver performance could be improved using auxiliary UVA vehicle headlighting and candidate fluorescent traffic control devices. In addition, safety and cost/benefit analyses were to be performed to determine if UVA/fluorescent technology offered an economical means of increasing highway safety.

SCOPE OF WORK

The research was designed to investigate the safety and cost/benefits possible from the use of UVA/fluorescent technology. The major project activities involved determining changes in driver performance, and visibility of roadway delineation and pedestrians, as well as assessing the effects on safety. Additionally, the project was to conduct a cost/benefit analysis comparing the expense of installing and maintaining fluorescent materials to any savings achieved from the reduction in highway crashes.

The first project activity involved conducting a preliminary field assessment of the effects of fluorescent/UVA technology on driver performance. The results of that initial research effort were reported earlier ("A Preliminary Field Evaluation of Ultraviolet-Activated Fluorescent Roadway Delineation," Karen R. Mahach, Richard L. Knoblauch, Carole J. Simmons, Marsha Nitzburg, John B. Arens, and Samuel J. Tignor, Public Roads, July/August 1997, Vol. 61, No. 1).

The second project activity involved conducting a critical review of a selected number of relevant references related to nighttime driving and visibility, use of UVA headlamps to enhance nighttime visibility, safety issues associated with UVA lighting, conspicuity and visual search, and other related research.

The third project activity involved designing and conducting a field evaluation to quantify the benefits associated with the use of UVA/fluorescent technology. Procedures were developed and implemented to measure changes in roadway delineation visibility, visibility of static and dynamic pedestrians, and driver performance. In addition, subjective ratings of UVA headlighting systems were made.

The final project activity involved conducting a cost/benefit analysis. This analysis consisted of preparing an estimate of the expense of installing and maintaining the UVA/fluorescent technology and comparing the costs involved to the potential cost savings resulting from the reduction of crashes attributable to UVA/fluorescent technology.

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