Effective Light Source for Illuminating Overhead Guide Signs and Improving Roadway Safety
Driver safety is considered an important issue to departments of transportation. One way to increase highway safety is to improve the visibility of overhead guide signs for drivers. Visibility improving methods include the use of sign illumination or retroreflective sheeting materials. This paper focuses on sign illumination by comparing five light sources including high pressure sodium (HPS), metal halide (MH), mercury vapor (MV), induction lighting, and light emitting diode (LED). A laboratory experiment was conducted to compare effective light distribution of each light source and a cost analysis was performed to compare initial, maintenance, and operating cost components of the light sources. Results of the light distribution experiment indicated that HPS was the optimum light source followed by MH, induction lighting, MV, and LED. Induction lighting is a promising lighting technology which features good efficiency and long life. According to cost analysis, induction lighting was the most effective source, followed by the LED, HPS, MV, and MH. Of the five light sources considered, induction lighting provided the best overall performance when considering initial cost, operating cost, expected maintenance, and sign illuminance. Environmentally, LED does not contain mercury, and for those agencies that prefer using sources that are friendlier with the environment, the LED can be their best choice.