Energy & Environment

Can Dimmer Highway Lights Save Energy and Lives?

This is the question the Maryland State Highway Administration hopes to answer with a one-year pilot program.
by | January 31, 2011

Bright lights illuminating roads help drivers navigate them safely. But how bright is too bright? Can dimming highway lights save energy while continuing to safely guide drivers? This is the question the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) hopes to answer with a one-year pilot program. SHA recently dimmed the lights along a six-mile path of highway, reports the Baltimore Sun. According to a SHA release, about 75 lights will be turned off, but the light poles will remain. Officials posit that well-lit signs, reflective striping and headlights from other cars could take the place of the missing lights. That said, SHA plans to track any increases in crashes during the pilot. If the agency deems that it can afford to keep a few lights off without a spike in the number of crashes, the light poles will be removed and installed in other locations, resulting in energy and cost savings. A research scientist with the Lighting Research Institute at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York told the Sun that Maryland is one of many states and localities examining if using less lighting on roadways will result in savings.

Tina Trenkner
Tina Trenkner  |  Deputy Editor, GOVERNING.com
ttrenkner@governing.com  |  @tinatrenkner

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