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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

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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.

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