Crosswalk Lighting Using Narrow Beam Illuminator


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National Surface Transportation Safety Center for Excellence


This project’s main objective was to collect and analyze preliminary data regarding the safety benefits of additional narrow beam crosswalk lighting in a naturalistic environment. Experiment participants operated vehicles while confederate pedestrians (child-sized mannequins) were staged at various positions with or without overhead lighting and crosswalk lighting that used a commercially available narrow beam LED (light emitting diode) luminaire. Salex loaned the crosswalk lighting illuminator (CWI) luminaires to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute for the experiment.

When used with overhead lighting, the CWI increased the detection distance of the confederate pedestrians in the crosswalk to 297 m while only increasing the power consumption by 5%. This was nearly double the 160-m detection distance for the highest illuminance overhead only baseline condition. The experiment showed no benefit to using the CWI lighting alone.

The results reaffirm that the direction of lighting is significant, but it is only one factor. Merely increasing light levels may not increase visual performance, just as changing the direction may not increase performance. The difference in the location of the illuminators and the overhead lights results in the light coming from different directions and illuminating the pedestrians and the background (roadway) differently than either alone. The effect on pedestrian contrast should be investigated further before setting illuminance levels for CWI lighting. Even with that caveat, the addition of a narrow beam CWI improves driver visual performance at detecting pedestrians in a midblock crosswalk by 88%. This is a powerful finding that should be considered as a safety treatment for midblock crosswalks.



Crosswalks, Crosswalk lighting, Pedestrian lighting, Vulnerable road users (VRUs), Crosswalk lighting illuminator (CWI)