Does the Interaction between Vehicle Headlamps and Roadway Lighting Affect Visibility? A Study of Pedestrian and Object Contrast
Vehicle headlamps and roadway lighting are the major sources of illumination at night. These sources affect contrast - defined as the luminance difference of an object from its background - which drives visibility at night. However, the combined effect of vehicle headlamps and intersection lighting on object contrast has not been reported previously. In this study, the interactive effects of vehicle headlamps and overhead lighting on object contrast were explored based on earlier work that examined drivers’ visibility under three intersection lighting designs (illuminated approach, illuminated box, and illuminated approach + box). The goals of this study were to: 1) quantify object luminance and contrast as a function of a vehicle’s headlamps and its distance to an intersection using the three lighting designs; and, 2) to assess whether contrast influences visual performance and perceived visibility in a highly dynamic intersection environment.