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FHWA Highway Safety Programs

FHWA Lighting Handbook 2023


The nighttime fatality rate on the Nation’s roadways is three times higher than the daytime rate, and 76 percent of pedestrian fatalities occur at night. Enhancing nighttime visibility along our nation’s roadway system and where non-motorists mix with traffic during darkness will save lives. FHWA has used a focused approach to safety for many years, based on findings that almost 90 percent of the traffic fatalities in the United States happen in three main areas: Intersections, Pedestrians and bicyclists, Roadway departures.  Improving nighttime visibility through lighting can benefits all three program areas and can safely connect people to the community and essential services.

This handbook is an update of the document published in 2012 by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and has been prepared to provide recommendations to lighting designers and State, city, and town officials concerning the design and application of roadway lighting. It is not intended to be a detailed design guide but serves as a primarily resource for policy makers and the design and construction community to evaluate potential needs, benefits, and applicable references when considering a roadway or street lighting system. 

The primary goal of this handbook is to improve safety using common roadway lighting applications with a focus on how best to apply roadway lighting in various applications and is therefore educational in nature.

Last updated: Wednesday, May 3, 2023