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August 11, 2023

Highway Lighting Technology: Advancements for Safer Roads

The importance of well-designed and effective road lighting cannot be overstated as it plays a vital role in ensuring the safety of all road users.

In this comprehensive guide, we explore the latest innovations and cutting-edge solutions in road lighting, from energy-efficient LED systems to smart lighting technologies that adapt to traffic conditions and weather changes.

What is highway lighting?

Highway lighting is lighting at the edge of the road or parking lot. The sole purpose of highway lighting is to provide a safe environment for all road users, including pedestrians and drivers. Depending on the type of road or parking lot, different light sources can be specified. Highway lighting is a means of improving the urban environment by increasing the comfort, convenience, and safety of night traffic. Lighting is often considered a safety measure. It increases the efficiency of traffic operations, and traffic safety is a by-product of efficiency.

Public lighting should make night traffic as safe, comfortable, and convenient as possible so that the driver is able to see clearly and reliably all the important details of the driving environment. Likewise, a pedestrian must clearly see his or her path, the relationship to vehicles, and possible obstacles. Therefore, public lighting satisfies the needs of both drivers and pedestrians. The main purpose of adequate road lighting is to reduce information uncertainty. While uncertainty exists, possible alternative decisions cannot be fully evaluated. The visual information requirements of the driver directly depend on what the driver is doing in his driving task. Highway lighting requirements are based on how the driver sees and what information he needs to perform the driving task satisfactorily.

Benefits of highway lighting

A well-designed highway lighting system offers several advantages, which can be listed as follows:

Design: Architects and urban planners have found that light is an important source of economic stimulation and beautification for their projects.

Commercial growth: Urban or downtown areas that would otherwise be virtually deserted after dark have increased their aesthetic appeal and commercial viability with improved street lighting.

Supporting emergency services: The police praise and actively support improving the lighting systems that make their work more manageable and efficient.

Entertainment centers: Many cities have reported reservations in reopening their parks and recreation areas after dark due to the impact of lighting on crime, business, and personal safety.

Reduce accidents at night: Many studies and observations have shown that the number of traffic accidents is significantly reduced at night due to adequate lighting in urban, suburban, and rural areas, regardless of the road class. It has also been found that the proper implementation of modern lighting techniques will undoubtedly lead to a significant reduction in the number of fatal and non-fatal accidents and the severity of those accidents that occur despite improved lighting technology.

Reduce crime: Advanced lighting technologies will certainly reduce illegal activity on the roads.

As shown in the last two points, the most useful benefit of highway lights is safety.

Lighting Impacts on Safety

Better visibility and fewer accidents

One of the main advantages of highway lighting is its ability to improve visibility at night and in adverse weather conditions. With the right lighting, drivers can see the road ahead, recognize potential hazards, and react accordingly. Studies have consistently shown that well-lit roads significantly reduce accidents, especially at night when visibility is naturally limited.

Avoiding collisions and hazards

Road lighting reduces the likelihood of collisions and hazards on the road. When roads are poorly lit, drivers may have difficulty seeing obstacles, debris or sudden changes in the road surface, increasing the risk of accidents. By lighting the highway, potential hazards become clearer, giving drivers more time to react and avoid accidents.

Prevention of criminal activity

Highway lighting also contributes to public safety by deterring crimes such as theft, vandalism, and assault. Well-lit roads create a sense of security and deter illegal activity, making it safer for drivers and pedestrians. Sufficient lighting is particularly important in peripheral areas or road sections where there are few road users.

Reduction of fatigue and eye strain

Driving in dark or poorly lit environments can cause driver fatigue and eye strain. High-quality road lighting reduces the strain on the driver's eyes, allowing them to focus and concentrate longer. This, in turn, reduces the risk of accidents caused by tired or distracted drivers.

Better pedestrian safety

Road lighting is important not only for drivers, but also for pedestrians. Well-lit roads increase the visibility of pedestrians to drivers, which reduces the likelihood of pedestrian accidents. Areas with high pedestrian traffic, such as crossings, pedestrian bridges, and intersections, should be adequately lit to improve pedestrian safety. Guidance and wayfinding road lighting act as a visual guide for the driver, helping them navigate complex road systems and unfamiliar areas. Properly lit signs and road markings are more visible, allowing drivers to make informed decisions and make appropriate exits or turns without confusion.

Reduced wildlife collisions

Many highways pass through areas inhabited by wild animals, which pose a danger to both animals and drivers. Proper lighting can help reduce wildlife collisions by making animals more visible from a distance, allowing drivers to brake or swerve if necessary.

Crisis situations and their responses

Road lighting plays a key role in emergency situations and rescue operations. Well-lit roads allow emergency services to quickly reach the scene of an accident or damage and help those in need.

Reduced traffic anxiety

Driving in poorly lit areas can cause anxiety and stress for many drivers. Adequate road lighting alleviates these feelings and promotes a more relaxed and focused driving experience. This reduction in anxiety can improve decision-making and increase awareness on the road. Safer lane changes and merging Proper lighting helps drivers identify gaps in traffic when changing lanes or merging onto a freeway. That visibility allows for smoother lane changes and reduces the possibility of sudden movements that can cause collisions.

Advancements in Highway Lighting Technology

Over the years, significant advances in lighting technology have further improved the safety of road lighting.

LED lighting: Light emitting diodes (LED) have revolutionised road lighting due to their energy efficiency, long life, and improved visibility. LED lights provide brighter light and consume less energy, so they are cost-effective and environmentally friendly solutions.

Smart Lighting Systems: Intelligent lighting technologies ensure dynamic lighting control in real time. These systems can adjust light levels based on traffic flow, weather conditions, and pedestrian presence, maximising safety and minimising energy consumption.


In a world where mobility is the cornerstone of modern life, the importance of road lighting is further emphasised. As cities grow and urban centres expand, the road network inevitably expands to accommodate the growing population. In such dynamic environments, lighting becomes an important ally in both day and night travel, supporting the principle that safety knows no schedule. Highway lighting (HL) is designed and implemented in the traffic system to respond to societal, safety, and security reasons. The use of technologies such as LED lighting and solar energy encourages many transportation agencies to adopt highway lighting, especially on difficult country roads. Road lighting is undeniably essential to road safety as it improves visibility, prevents collisions, deters crime, and promotes the overall safety of road users. It is important to prioritize the quality and maintenance of lighting systems and use technological advances to create a safer road environment for everyone. By continuously improving road lighting standards, we can strive for a future where traffic accidents are minimised and traffic becomes safer and more efficient for everyone.

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