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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-14-051    Date:  July 2014
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-14-051
Date: July 2014


Design Criteria for Adaptive Roadway Lighting

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The Federal Highway Administration's Office of Safety Research and Development focuses on conducting research that promotes a safe driving environment while offering practical considerations to address the needs of practitioners. Roadway lighting offers significant safety benefits but also represents a substantial share of the operating budgets of agencies tasked with maintaining the lighting infrastructure. Therefore, there is a need to optimize the safety implications and budgetary considerations.

This report describes an in-depth effort to assess the impact of roadway lighting on the overall safety performance of roadways. To accomplish this goal, the research team collected thousands of miles of real-world roadway lighting data and compared the varying lighting levels, roadway characteristics, and traffic volumes with crash history information. This comparison required extensive data manipulation and the use of geospatial linkages to pull the data together in a useable form. A robust statistical analysis of the underlying relationships among these data revealed the effects and limits of lighting on the overall roadway safety performance.

The results of this report were used to develop a proposed set of adaptive lighting criteria to assist jurisdictions in making sound safety-based decisions when considering adaptive lighting approaches. In addition, this is the most robust analysis of real-world lighting data conducted to date and is intended to serve as the foundation for future roadway lighting analyses.

Monique R. Evans
Director, Office of Safety
Research and Development


This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for the use of the information contained in this document. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation.

The U.S. Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trademarks or manufacturers' names appear in this report only because they are considered essential to the objective of the document.

Quality Assurance Statement

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides high-quality information to serve Government, industry, and the public in a manner that promotes public understanding. Standards and policies are used to ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of its information. FHWA periodically reviews quality issues and adjusts its programs and processes to ensure continuous quality improvement.


Technical Report Documentation Page

1. Report No.


2. Government Accession No. 3 Recipient's Catalog No.
4. Title and Subtitle

Design Criteria for Adaptive Roadway Lighting

5. Report Date

July 2014

6. Performing Organization Code
7. Author(s)

Ronald Gibbons. Feng Guo, Alejandra Medina, Travis Terry, Jianhe Du, Paul Lutkevich, and Qing Li

8. Performing Organization Report No.


9. Performing Organization Name and Address

Virginia Tech Transportation Institute
3500 Transportation Research Plaza (0536)
Blacksburg, VA 24061

10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS)

11. Contract or Grant No.


12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

Office of Safety R and D
Federal Highway Administration
6300 Georgetown Pike

McLean, VA 22101-2296
13. Type of Report and Period Covered


14. Sponsoring Agency Code


15. Supplementary Notes
16. Abstract

This report provides the background and analysis used to develop criteria for the implementation of an adaptive lighting system for roadway lighting. Based on the analysis of crashes and lighting performance, a series of criteria and the associated design levels have been developed to provide an approach for light level selection and the adjustability of the light level based on the needs of the driving environment. The data, the analysis, and the developed methodology are all considered in the document.

17. Key Words

Lighting, Safety, Crash, Adaptive Lighting

18. Distribution Statement

No restrictions. This document is available through the National Technical Information Service; Springfield, VA 22161.

19. Security Classification
(of this report)


20. Security Classification
(of this page)


21. No. of Pages


22. Price
Form DOT F 1700.7 Reproduction of completed page authorized


SI* (Modern Metric) Conversion Factors






AADT Annualized average daily traffic
ADT Average daily traffic
ANSI American National Standards Institute
CIE Commission Internationale de l’Eclairage
FHWA Federal Highway Administration
GIS Geographic information system
GPS Global Positioning System
HFC Horizontal foot candles
HSIS Highway Safety Information System
IES Illuminating Engineering Society of North America
LCL Lower confidence limit
LOS Level of Service
LZ Lighting Zone
NOAA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
NTDCRR Night-to-day crash rate ratio
RLMMS Roadway Lighting Mobile Measurement System
UCL Upper confidence limit
UR Uniformity Ratio
VTTI Virginia Tech Transportation Institute


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Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center | 6300 Georgetown Pike | McLean, VA | 22101