Effects of Mounting Height, Offset Distance, and Number of Light Towers on Drivers' Visual Performance and Discomfort Glare in Work Zones

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Portable light towers are a significant source of glare to motorists entering a work zone. Although existing research has evaluated the effect of light tower orientation on visibility and glare, the effects of factors like mounting height, offset distance from the roadway, and number of light towers in the work zone, on visual performance and discomfort glare is not known. Understanding these relationships can help in developing illuminating guidelines for work zones that can reduce glare for drivers. The goal of this paper is to understand the effect of mounting height, offset distance to the roadway, and number of light towers in the work zone on drivers’ visual performance and discomfort glare. Participants drove through a realistic work zone and evaluated portable light towers in varying mounting heights, offset distances, and number of light towers in the work zone. Results showed that the mounting height and offset distances play a critical role in affecting the driver’s visual performance and discomfort glare rating. Portable light towers, irrespective of wattage and lumen output, at lower than a mounting height of 20 ft and closer to the roadway result in decreasing driver visual performance and increasing their discomfort glare. Portable light towers should be mounted at a height of at least 20 ft and balloon light towers with higher wattage (4,000 W and greater) and lumen output (400,000 lumens and greater) should be located at an offset distance of at least 10 ft from the roadway.

Engineering, Civil, Transportation, Transportation Science & Technology, Engineering, 0905 Civil Engineering, 1205 Urban and Regional Planning, 1507 Transportation and Freight Services, Logistics & Transportation