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

This report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
Publication Number: FHWA-RD-99-079

A Safety Evaluation of UVA Vehicle Headlights

Contract No. DTFH61-95-C-00093

Prepared by:

Marsha Nitzburg

Rita Seifert

Richard Knoblauch

Dan Turner

Center for Applied Research, Inc.

10213 Forest Lake Drive

Great Falls, VA 22066

Turner Fairbank Highway Research Center

6300 Georgetown Pike

McLean, VA 22101-2296


This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The United States Government assumes no liability for its contents or use thereof. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation.

The United States Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trade and manufacturers' names appear in this report only because they are considered essential to the object of the document.

Technical Report Documentation Page

1. Report No.


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


5. Report Date
6. Performing Organization Code
7. Author(s)

M. Nitzburg, R. Seifert, R. Knoblauch, D. Turner

8. Performing Organization Report No.

9. Performing Organization Name and Address

Center for Applied Research, Inc.
10213 Forest Lake Drive
Great Falls, VA 22066-3608

10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS)


11. Contract or Grant No.


12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

Office of Safety Research, Development, and Technology
Federal Highway Administration
6300 Georgetown Pike
McLean, VA 22101-2296

13. Type of Report and Period Covered

Final Report October 1, 1995 - December 31, 1998

14. Sponsoring Agency Code
15. Supplementary Notes

Contracting Officer's Technical Representative (COTR): Dan Turner, HRDS
The Cost/Benefit Analysis was conducted by Dr. Ted Miller and Diane Lestina of National Public Services Research Institute.

16. Abstract

The objective of this report was to determine if driver performance can be improved through the use of fluorescent roadway delineation and auxiliary ultraviolet (UVA) vehicle headlights. Additionally, cost/benefit analyses were to be conducted to determine if UVA fluorescent technology may be an economical means of increasing highway safety.

The literature review found several Swedish studies indicating sizeable increases (approximately 200%) in visibility distances for fluorescent roadway markings. Also, the literature review found no evidence of potentially harmful effects from the ultraviolet radiation emitted by the UVA headlight systems.

An extensive field study was conducted to determine the effects of UVA/fluorescent technology on visibility distances and driver behavior. Using an instrumented vehicle, no differences were found in vehicle speed, lateral placement, throttle position, steering wheel reversals, or brake applications. However, there were sizeable (up to 50%) improvements in the detection and recognition distances of a variety of roadway delineations. Even larger (300%) increases in detection distances of fluorescent objects, such as a bicycle and traffic cones, were found. Drivers' subjective ratings of UVA/fluorescent technology were very favorable.

The cost/benefit analysis indicated that very favorable cost/benefit ratios were associated with relatively modest reductions in relevant nighttime crashes and pedestrian crashes.

17. Key Words

Research, Safety, Visibility, Road markings, Vehicle Headlights, Ultraviolet Lighting, Fluorescent Roadway Delineation, Pedestrian Safety

18. Distribution Statement

No restrictions. This document is available to the public
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



Literature Review

Field Study

Cost/Benefit Analysis


List of Figures

List of Tables

Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000
Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center | 6300 Georgetown Pike | McLean, VA | 22101