USA Banner

Official US Government Icon

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure Site Icon

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation
FHWA Highway Safety Programs

Roadway Lighting Resources

Below are several resources and research documents that you may find useful in learning more about roadway lighting.


  • Important of Roadway Lighting Safety - YouTube [HTML]
    Lighting is proven to reduce nighttime crashes on highways and urban streets especially at intersection crossings.  This video provides a brief overview of how properly designed lighting can ultimately save lives. You can learn more on FHWA's website Roadway Lighting.
  • Lighting - A Florida Case Study on a Proven Safety Countermeasure - YouTube [HTML]
    The guidelines presented in this 2014 report address the need to maintain the safety effects of roadway lighting while alleviating the budgetary strains associated with the maintenance of the lighting infrastructure. This report establishes a new set of criteria for practitioners to apply to their roadway environment that will identify appropriate lighting levels for given roadway characteristics and usage. [Publication No. FHWA-HRT-14-050]

Proven Safety Countermeasure

  • Roadway Lighting [HTML]


  • Web-based training for FHWA Roadway Lighting Workshop [HTML]
    This new online training is designed to educate practitioners on the latest advances in nighttime lighting concepts and technologies while refreshing their memory on basics such as the objectives and benefits of roadway lighting. Other topics include basic terminology, practices for determining whether and how lighting should be installed and controlled, measurement issues, and more. 


  • FHWA Lighting Handbook 2023 [PDF]
    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.

  • Pedestrian Lighting Primer [PDF 4.4 MB]
    Lighting of pedestrian facilities plays a key role in increasing the safety performance of the road network for all users. Effective pedestrian lighting installations are a means of addressing the vulnerability of pedestrians during dark conditions and improving safety and security of all road users spanning different ages and abilities, including wheelchair and other mobility device users. Lighting not only makes it easier for drivers to see pedestrians, but also improves pedestrians’ abilities to see their surroundings and detect trip hazards. It increases pedestrians’ perceived levels of safety and security associated with the use of pedestrian facilities. Lighting may also increase pedestrians’ confidence in performing certain tasks, such as assessing and selecting appropriate gaps at uncontrolled crossings and monitoring vehicles approaching and making different movements through signalized intersections. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) published this primer to be a resource for transportation practitioners interested in the safety and security benefits of pedestrian lighting as well as lighting design considerations at locations with existing or future pedestrian activity.

  • Research Report: Lighting for Pedestrian Safety [PDF 9.9 MB]
    This document details three separate experiments that coalesce to form pedestrian lighting recommendations for sidewalk and crosswalk lighting that consider the visibility needs of both children and adults as well as pedestrian volume and road class. In the first study, participant drivers were evaluated on their ability to detect the presence of child-sized pedestrians under variations of luminaire type, mounting heights, as well as variations in luminance and illuminance of the visual target. A second experiment evaluated the ability for walking pedestrians to detect hazards in their path under the same lighting conditions used in the first experiment. The final experiment evaluated the abilities of adults and children to determine when it would be no longer safe to cross a mid-block crosswalk as vehicles approach under varying lighting conditions.

  • Lighting for Pedestrian Safety 2-pager [PDF 1.1 MB]
    Pedestrian fatalities at nighttime are continuing to increase from 2009 to 2019 highlighting the significance of the need to reduce Pedestrian Crashes during dark condition . The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) created the Pedestrian Lighting Primer to ensure that the safety practitioners and safety advocates understand adequate roadway lighting is vital to the safety and security for pedestrians. This 2-pager summarizes some of the key elements in the Primer and bring all the other impacts on providing a well-lit street environment to the forefront.

  • Minnesota Department of Transportation's Street Lighting at Rural Intersections [New PDF]
    With a history of fatalities at rural intersections during dark conditions, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) initiated research starting in the early 2000’s that led to the practice of proactively lighting rural intersections and a systemic program to improve nighttime visibility at rural intersections. Research showed intersection lighting provide visual benefits for drivers, beyond headlamps, as they navigate critical visual information in the dark. The illumination helps drivers reduce potential uncertainty identifying critical information such as road and intersection geometry and other visual cues to help them navigate safely under the rural environment.  This is their story.

  • Safety Benefits and Best Practices for Intersection Lighting [PDF 2.2 MB]
    This project for Virginia DOT involved an extensive effort to investigate traffic safety lighting impacts at intersections. Based on the results, the project identified optimal lighting levels for different types of intersections and developed guidelines to facilitate lighting needs analysis and design at the Virginia Department of Transportation.

  • Roadway Lighting's Effect on Pedestrian Safety at Intersection and Midblock Crosswalks [HTML]
    This study for Illinois DOT evaluates the visual performance of intersection and midblock crosswalk lighting designs along with two pedestrian safety countermeasures (rectangular rapid flashing beacons and flashing signs) at three light levels. The study also involved a pedestrian detection task, which was completed at night on a realistic roadway intersection and a midblock crosswalk.

  • Study on Illumination for State Highways [PDF 2.9 MB]
    This 2016 report reviewed existing public agency illumination standards domestically and internationally and outlined the difference in designing standards. An overview of existing luminaire technology performance, as well as operational and maintenance characteristics are provided. In addition, available illumination control and spectrum technologies for performance characteristics are summarized. The results of this literature review are useful for design and business case decisions regarding illumination installation, maintenance, and operation. [Publication No. WA-RD 847.1]

  • Evaluation of The Impact of Spectral Power Distribution on Driver Performance [HTMLPDF 9.4 MB]
    This 2015 report provides the details and results of a comprehensive investigation of the impact of light-source spectrum on driver visual performance. Human factors experiments evaluated driver detection and recognition of large and small objects, including pedestrians, with and without overhead lighting. [Publication No. FHWA- HRT-15-047]
  • FHWA Roadway Lighting Handbook [HTMLPDF 5.84 MB]
    This 2012 handbook is an update to the 1978 FHWA Lighting Handbook 78-15 as well as the 1983 addendum. It is meant to provide guidance to designers and State, city, and town officials concerning the application of roadway lighting. [Publication No. FHWA-SA-11-22]
  • Design Criteria for Adaptive Roadway Lighting [HTMLPDF 1.12 MB]
    This 2014 report describes an in-depth effort to assess the impact of roadway lighting on the overall safety performance of roadways. The results of this report were used to develop a proposed set of adaptive lighting criteria to assist jurisdictions in making sound safety-based decisions when considering adaptive lighting approaches. This robust analysis of real-world lighting data serves as the foundation for future roadway lighting analyses. [Publication No. FHWA- HRT-14-051]
  • Guidelines for The Implementation of Reduced Lighting on Roadways [HTMLPDF 1.12 MB]
    The guidelines presented in this 2014 report address the need to maintain the safety effects of roadway lighting while alleviating the budgetary strains associated with the maintenance of the lighting infrastructure. This report establishes a new set of criteria for practitioners to apply to their roadway environment that will identify appropriate lighting levels for given roadway characteristics and usage. [Publication No. FHWA-HRT-14-050]

Design Guidelines

  • ANSI/IES Recommended Practice for Design and Maintenance of Roadway and Parking Facility (RP-8-21)
    This document updates the 2018 version. As part of the update effort, the IES Roadway Lighting Committee revisited practices on design, installation, and maintenance methods of roadway lighting systems and incorporated new or revised methodologies, design concepts and procedures, and included advancements in international research on lighting concepts.

  • AASHTO Roadway Lighting Design Guide 7th Edition
    The 7th Edition of the AASHTO Roadway Lighting Design Guide have been published and is now available for purchase from AASHTO store

    The 7th Edition has been revised to reflect current practices in roadway lighting design and provide a general overview of lighting systems from the point of view of State transportation departments recommends minimum design parameters.

NCHRP Report

  • NCHRP Research Report 940: Solid-State Roadway Lighting Design, Volume 1: Guidance and Volume 2: Research Overview
    The objectives of NCHRP Project 05-22, "Guidelines for Solid-State Roadway Lighting," were (1) to develop more comprehensive guidelines in AASHTO standard format for the application of roadway lighting related to the widespread adoption of SSL and (2) to identify gaps in knowledge where possible future research will enhance these guidelines. This research complements and supplements the ongoing efforts of the AASHTO Roadway Lighting Committee on the use of SSL systems.

    The research produce a solid-state roadway lighting guidance on implementing SSL technology, specifically as it relates to the current AASHTO Roadway Lighting Design Guide (2018) and a complimentary research overview report. For further details on Report 940, please visit the TRB website with the links below for free download.

  • NCHRP Project 20-07, Task 425 Report on Emerging LED Technologies and use within tunnels
    This research documented the differences in lighting sources and the issues related to use of LED lighting sources in roadway tunnels. Issues include potential changes in tunnel maintenance cycles and procedures, differences in color/brightness, distribution of light from LED luminaires and the higher initial capital cost. The report also developed and proposed revisions to the AASHTO Roadway Lighting Design Guide, Seventh Edition dated October 2018, with respect to tunnel lighting
  • NCHRP Report 968: LED Roadway Lighting: Impact on Driver Sleep Health and Alertness

    Light emitting diode (LED) technology has revolutionized the lighting industry. The dimming and instant-on capabilities of these light sources along with their high efficiency have allowed lighting designers to overcome some of the limitations of previous technologies, particularly in roadway lighting environments. However, concerns related to the health and environmental impacts of LEDs have been raised.

    The TRB National Cooperative Highway Research Program's NCHRP Research Report 968: LED Roadway Lighting: Impact on Driver Sleep Health and Alertness seeks to determine the impact of LED roadway lighting on driver sleep health and alertness. This report provides information for state and local transportation agencies on the potential impact of LED roadway lighting on driver health. Thus, the report will be of immediate interest to staff in these agencies with responsibility for the design and operation of roadway lighting.

  • TRB Synthesis Report Project 575 Lighting Practices for Isolated Rural Intersections
    Roadway lighting is a widely recognized intervention for reducing nighttime crashes and isolated rural intersection lighting appears to be beneficial overall, but predicting the benefits likely at a specific location is very difficult. This synthesis report is designed to help provide a foundation for transportation departments considering if, when, and where to install lighting at isolated rural intersections and was carried out to gather information and experiences from different agencies into a single document.

The U.S. Government does not endorse outside entities, products, or manufacturers. Links to content created by outside entities are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to reflect a preference, approval, or endorsement of any one entity or product. External sites are not subject to Federal information quality, privacy, security, or accessibility guidelines.