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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-HRT-04-133
Date: December 2005

Enhanced Night Visibility, Volume II: Overview of Phase I and Development of Phase II

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This section describes the activities that occurred during the first phase of the Enhanced Night Visibility (ENV) project. The priority for this initial phase was to make significant progress toward the first milestone outlined in the original contract: establishment of performance and design objectives to facilitate the deployment of ultraviolet A (UV–A) headlamps. This phase involved the following tasks:

  • Establish stakeholder teams to move the technology forward on all fronts toward potential deployment.
  • Determine the current state of knowledge of UV costs and benefits.
  • Develop an evaluation plan to fill gaps in the current state of knowledge necessary to establish not only realistic performance and design objectives but also quantitative and comprehensive benefits and costs.
  • Develop materials, methods, and partnerships to enable performance of the required evaluations, beginning on a relatively small scale and culminating in a larger-scale demonstration.

This volume describes the efforts of researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) (formerly known as the Virginia Tech Center for Transportation Research or VTCTR), the Virginia Transportation Research Council (VTRC), the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), and the University of Iowa to develop the groundwork necessary to support the subsequent research. In the interest of demonstrating this process, the initial approaches, plans, and goals of the researchers are presented as they were established at the time, regardless of their actual outcomes. Much of this volume comes from an unpublished workplan developed in Phase I of this project for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Many of these tasks came to full fruition, some were implemented with minor changes, and some were completely redesigned. Several new tasks were added. The actual outcomes are detailed in ENV Volumes III through XVIII covering Phase II and Phase III of this project.


To achieve the first milestone, establishment of performance and design objectives to facilitate the deployment of ultraviolet (UV–A) headlamps, four research teams were created:

  • Vehicle team: Headlamp specification and development issues.
  • Driver/pedestrian team: Driver performance and headlamp safety issues.
  • Infrastructure team: Specification, fabrication, installation, and evaluation of pavement markings and delineators.
  • Implementation team: Development of public and private partnerships needed for eventual deployment.

Early in the project, the teams focused on making the final team member selections, clarifying team member roles, and refining the research questions for Phase I.

Two of the major tasks in Phase I of the project were identifying and procuring infrastructure materials and headlamps. As such, the teams worked with lighting and infrastructure manufacturers to develop products for testing. The following paragraphs summarize the results of these efforts.

Infrastructure Materials Development

Infrastructure materials suppliers showed interest in participating in the project. The following suppliers were involved to varying degrees:

  • 3M
  • Carsonite International
  • Cataphote®
  • Potters Industries
  • PrecisionScan LLC ®
  • Flint Trading Company
  • Cleanosol
  • DayGlo®

The level of participation varied among these organizations from providing the use of equipment and testing facilities to providing certain types of materials for evaluation and testing. The companies that manufactured fluorescent pigments, glass beads, and pavement markings (both paint and thermoplastic material) were interested in having their products evaluated. These same companies expressed a willingness to join the project team to refine their products, if necessary, for the planned deployment phase of the project.

The companies that manufacture sign sheetings were more reluctant to invest significant research and development funding until the UV–A and fluorescent technology proved itself more and a market for such technology developed.

Headlamp Development

Research and development of UV–A (the "A" stands for the portion of the UV band from 315 to 400 nanometers (nm)) and fluorescent technology began in Sweden in the late 1980s. European companies have largely abandoned production and testing of the technology because of a perceived lack of market size in Europe. During the first year of the ENV project, the research team made considerable effort to locate headlamps and other necessary products for testing. Although this work was difficult, several avenues appeared promising. The team proposed that the United States Council for Automotive Research (USCAR) participate in the project and contribute financial support to leverage project and other funds aimed at accelerating headlamp development. In addition, Labino AB, a European lighting manufacturer, appeared willing and able to supply the project with all of the UV–A headlamps necessary for the testing and demonstration activities.


Part of Phase I determined the current state of knowledge of UV–A and fluorescent technology. The results revealed a need to conduct analytical and empirical research to better understand this technology. By filling the gaps in the state of knowledge at that time, the research team hoped to establish achievable performance and design objectives as well as quantitative and comprehensive analyses of the benefits and costs associated with UV–A and fluorescent technology. The research team also hoped that such an effort eventually would culminate in a demonstration of the technology and lead to full-scale implementation. To effectively undertake this effort, the research team developed five activity areas to establish UV–A and fluorescent technology design and performance objectives and provide a catalyst for eventual deployment:

  1. Development of UV–A headlamp specification.
  2. Evaluation of fluorescent infrastructure materials.
  3. Quantification of glare and photobiological risks.
  4. Expansion of the cost-benefit analysis.
  5. Demonstration and implementation.

In each activity area, the research team identified a number of performance and design issues to resolve before the potential wide-scale deployment of UV–A technologies. Table 1 lists these primary issues and identifies which activity areas were to address them. The following sections describe Phase II activity areas and specific performance and design objectives as well as the plans for conducting these analyses and studies.

Table 1. Issues to be addressed by the ENV workplan.
Issues Applicable Activity Area
  1 2 3 4 5
Locate suppliers X X      
Construct preprototype X        
Obtain USCAR’s assistance X       X
Determine the required distribution of UV–A radiant intensities X        
Determine the desired spectral power distribution X        
Determine the upper and lower cutoffs for filtering X        
Determine aiming test points X        
Obtain assistance from industry with research and development X        
Ascertain photometric characteristics of fluorescent traffic control devices (TCDs)   X      
Determine durability of fluorescent TCDs   X      
Solve installation issues for fluorescent TCDs   X      
Explore potential environmental concerns related to fluorescent TCDs   X      
Set criteria for acceptance or rejection of UV–A and fluorescent technology   X      
Consider driver safety (and photobiological risk)     X    
Consider pedestrian safety (and photobiological risk)     X    
Consider age and acceptance     X    
Consider eye disease and acceptance     X    
Assess headlamp compliance to safety standards     X    
Consider rearview mirror reflection     X    
Consider fluorescent clothing distraction     X    
Calculate costs associated with UV–A and fluorescent technology       X  
Determine deterioration rate of fluorescent TCDs       X  
Calculate cost of making and installing UV–A headlamps       X  
Calculate maintenance costs of UV–A headlamps       X  
Calculate potential effect of UV–A headlamps on accident costs       X  
Calculate potential effect of fluorescent TCDs on accident costs       X  
Access degree of UV–A and fluorescent technology enhances visibility       X  
Access potential for driver overconfidence with UV–A and fluorescent technology       X  
Calculate degree of crash reduction       X  
Obtain VDOT ’s assistance         X
Obtain automotive lighting manufacturers’ assistance         X
Establish implementation network         X
Analyze stakeholders         X
Formulate strategic planning         X
Manage stakeholder interests         X


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