The nighttime fatality rate on our Nation’s roadways is three times higher than the daytime rate, and 76 percent of pedestrian fatalities occur at night. Enhancing nighttime visibility where non-motorists mix with traffic during times of darkness can, and will, save lives.

The nighttime visibility for safety initiative focuses on deploying countermeasures to safely connect people to the community and essential services. Reducing crashes at intersections is one major focus area for this initiative.

FDOT upgraded this corridor near Tampa, FL, as part of its lighting upgrade. (Credit: FHWA)

Well-designed lighting can reduce nighttime crashes at rural and urban intersections by 33 to 38 percent. Adequate intersection lighting can help reduce nighttime pedestrian-injury crashes by 42 percent. In addition to the safety benefits, light-emitting diode (LED) luminaires use less energy than traditional ones, like high-pressure sodium luminaires, creating cost savings.

Designers can use LED lighting to control lighting levels and color temperatures that enhance nighttime contrast and small target detection over conventional high pressure sodium luminaires. Improving luminance and color contrast improves nighttime visibility and results in fewer crashes, fewer injuries, and fewer fatalities.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) researched multiple lighting solutions and directed $100 million to its districts to replace high-pressure sodium lighting with LEDs for improved pedestrian visibility. These upgrades resulted in enhancements at approximately 80 percent of the State’s most dangerous intersections.

At one intersection in the Tampa Bay area, preliminary results show that nighttime injuries and fatalities have been reduced by more than 50 percent. FDOT district seven, which comprises the Tampa Bay area including Citrus, Hernando, Pasco, Hillsborough, and Pinellas counties, installed improved lighting at over 400 intersection locations and before and after studies have shown crash reductions of up to 65 percent.

To learn more about FDOT’s lighting upgrade case study, please watch this overview video. To stay up-to-date on this initiative, subscribe to the team’s e-newsletter. If you have additional questions, please contact a member of the team: Joseph Cheung, FHWA Office of Safety, or George Merritt or Tori Brinkly, FHWA Resource Center.

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