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Technical Paper

Visibility from Vehicle Headlamps and Roadway Lighting in Urban, Suburban and Rural Locations

In real world driving conditions, illumination from vehicle headlamps and, when present, from fixed roadway lighting combines to provide visibility for the driver. We present analyses of visibility along a representative roadway intersection scenario with median and market-weighted headlamp beam patterns including halogen and high intensity discharge headlamp beam patterns, and high beam headlamp beam patterns. Also investigated are interactions with the spatial extent of roadway lighting, either as part of a continuous lighting system or as a single roadway luminaire at the intersection junction, and the role of ambient illuminance from urban environments. The results of the analyses show the large influence of ambient illuminance from urban areas on the visibility of relevant targets, and show differential advantages of different headlamp beam patterns for different target locations where pedestrians might be encountered.
Technical Paper

Real-World Measurement of Headlamp Illumination

We summarize the development and initial deployment of a system that can be mounted along an intersection, curve, drive-in, or parking facility to efficiently gather relevant data about headlamp patterns that might relate to glare or visibility. The system can run autonomously to collect many vehicles per data collection period. The system includes a range finder to capture information when an approaching vehicle is at a specific location, a digital camera to store images of oncoming headlamp position (i.e., mounting height), two arrays of light sensors to measure the vertical headlamp illumination profile (e.g., angular position of headlamp beam cutoff or maximum luminous intensity), and a color-calibrated illuminance meter at the angular location of an oncoming driver's eyes. From the headlamp mounting height data and the vertical cutoff location data, an estimate of the headlamp aim distribution can be made.
Technical Paper

Investigating the Influence of Headlight Glare and Aim on Risk-Related Driving Behavior

Nighttime driving cannot be accomplished without vehicle headlighting. A growing body of evidence demonstrates the role of lighting on visual performance and in turn on nightttime driving safety in terms of crashes. Indirect impacts of lighting via comfort or other factors are less well understood, however. A two-part field study using real-world drivers of an instrumented vehicle was conducted to assess the potential role of oncoming headlight glare as a factor in driving behaviors that might be related to increased crash risks. In the first part of the study, drivers' behaviors when navigating through roadway intersections having different levels of crash risk were recorded in order to identify responses that were correlated with the risk level. In the second part, drivers were exposed to different levels of glare from oncoming headlights; several of the same risk-related behaviors identified in the first part of the study were exhibited.
Technical Paper

Influence of Oncoming Light Exposure on Safety Outcomes in a Naturalistic Driving Study

Recent naturalistic driving studies provide a useful means for gathering information about the potential role of lighting in driving safety. The Naturalistic Driving Study carried out through the Strategic Highway Research Program 2 (SHRP2) includes real-time driving data for crashes, near-crashes and baseline driving events for more than 3000 drivers across the United States. Among the data collected are oncoming illuminance recordings that can be used to estimate glare exposure for the drivers in the study. Data for crash events occurring at night were compared to those for baseline driving under similar conditions and by drivers of similar ages. The resulting light exposure data indicate that oncoming glare is likely to be only a very small factor associated with nighttime crashes, but that the influence of glare may increase for older drivers.
Technical Paper

Impacts of Dynamic Rear Lighting on Driver Response

Rear automotive lighting systems employing dynamic features such as sweeping or flashing are not commonly used on vehicles in North America, in part because they are not clearly addressed in vehicle lighting regulations. Nor is there abundant evidence suggesting they have a substantial role to play in driver safety. The results of a human factors investigation of the potential impacts of dynamic rear lighting systems on driver responses are summarized and discussed in the context of safety, visual effectiveness and the present regulatory context.
Technical Paper

Adaptive High Beam Systems: Visual Performance and Safety Effects

Present standards for vehicle forward lighting specify two headlamp beam patterns: a low beam when driving in the presence of other nearby vehicles, and a high beam when there is not a concern for producing glare to other drivers. Adaptive lighting technologies such as curve lighting systems with steerable headlamps may be related to increments in safety according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but isolating the effects of lighting is difficult. Recent analyses suggest that visibility improvements from adaptive curve lighting systems might reduce nighttime crashes along curves by 2%-3%. More advanced systems such as adaptive high-beam systems that reduce high-beam headlamp intensity toward oncoming drivers are not presently allowed in the U.S. The purpose of the present study is to analyze visual performance benefits and quantify potential safety benefits from adaptive high-beam headlamp systems.
Technical Paper

Visual Benefits of Blue Coated Lamps for Automotive Forward Lighting

A research project has been completed to determine if commercially available blue coated lamps provide visual benefit for nighttime driving over standard tungsten halogen lamps. As an esthetic option, tungsten halogen lamps with an absorptive coating have been developed to mimic the appearance of HID lamps. The transmission of these coated lamp results in a continuous output spectrum, like standard tungsten halogen, but with a lower “yellow” content, giving an appearance similar to HID lamps. Aside from esthetic reasons for using blue coated lamps, there is also evidence that the spectral output may provide visual benefits over standard tungsten halogen lamps in nighttime driving. While driving at night, off-axis or peripheral vision is in the mesopic response range and the eye's sensitivity shifts towards shorter wavelengths or “blue” light.
Technical Paper

Spectral Effects of High-Intensity Discharge Automotive Forward Lighting on Visual Performance

Recent studies have shown that high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps provide visual benefits to the vehicle operator that may lead to increased nighttime driving safety. An experimental field investigation is described that further investigates the visual performance aspects of HID forward lighting systems to isolate and examine the role of lamp spectral distribution under realistic nighttime driving conditions. This study examines lamp spectral distribution by direct comparison of HID source spectra to one that simulates a conventional halogen source. Two additional lamp spectra are also included in this study, a “cool” distribution with a high percentage of short wavelength visible light and a “warm” distribution with a high percentage of long wavelength visible light. Subjects perform a visual tracking task, cognitively similar to driving, while seated in the driver's seat of a test vehicle.
Technical Paper

Discomfort and Disability Glare from Halogen and HID Headlamp Systems

Illumination from high intensity discharge (HID) headlamps differs from halogen headlamp illumination in two important ways: HID headlamps have higher overall light output and a spectral power distribution that differs from halogen headlamps. These differences have been hypothesized to result in superior visibility with HID headlamps and most particularly in the periphery. These same factors, though, have also been conjectured to result in increased glare for drivers facing HID headlamps in oncoming driving situations. The present paper outlines a series of experimental investigations using halogen, HID, and blue-filtered halogen illumination to measure their relative impact on discomfort glare and disability glare under conditions matching those that might be experienced by oncoming drivers at night. Discomfort glare is determined using the scale devised by de Boer; disability glare is determined by measuring subjects' contrast sensitivity under different lighting conditions.
Technical Paper

Headlight Glare Exposure and Recovery

There is concern that the greater light output and increased beam pattern widths of some headlamp systems may be resulting in higher glare exposures to drivers for longer times. A set of experiments is described that examines how headlamp glare exposure affects recovery time and ratings of discomfort. Theoretical glare exposures were examined to study different aspects of glare, namely peak glare illuminance and total glare dosage. Glare exposures corresponding to representative tungsten halogen (TH) and high intensity discharge (HID) systems were also examined. It was found that the shape of the glare profile had a significant effect on recovery time. A larger dose of glare (product of illuminance and exposure time) results in a longer recovery time. It was also found that discomfort ratings are dependent on glare profile, with greater discomfort being proportional to larger peak illuminances. Surprisingly, no effect of glare duration or dosage was found on discomfort.
Technical Paper

Driving in Snow: Effect of Headlamp Color at Mesopic and Photopic Light Levels

Many individuals believe that yellow headlights are preferable to white headlights when driving at night during a snowfall. Although evidence exists to support the claim that yellow light can be perceived as less “glaring” or “distracting” than white light of equal luminance, it is not clear whether backscattered light of different colors are differentially effective for driver comfort or for driver performance. This study investigates a potential mechanism that could support the supposed benefit of yellow headlamps for reducing the detrimental effects of backscattered light to drivers at night. The results suggest that under low light levels when the visual field is dominated by a dynamic field of visual “noise” (like that caused by backscattered light from falling snow), performance of a tracking task similar to driving is reduced in accordance with the scotopic (rod-stimulating) content of the visual noise.
Technical Paper

Rear Signal Lighting: From Research to Standards, Now and in the Future

Rear signal lighting on vehicles has two primary functions: informing other drivers about the presence of a vehicle on the roadway, and alerting those other drivers to intentions of a vehicle's driver before actions such as turning or stopping occur. In the present paper, reports, articles and other technical literature, pertaining to rear lighting signal system photometric requirements and use of dynamic display features, are reviewed. The objective is to synthesize recommendations for configuring rear lighting in order to optimize systems for different ambient weather and lighting conditions, dirt accumulation, and warning functions. Research results from European, North American and Japanese contexts are discussed.
Technical Paper

Visual Benefits of High-Intensity Discharge Automotive Forward Lighting

Recent studies have shown that high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps provide visual benefits to the vehicle operator that may lead to greater nighttime driving safety.[1] This paper is an extension of that work to further examine the role of beam pattern. An experimental field investigation is described that explores the visual performance aspects of HID forward lighting systems meeting North American beam pattern standards. This study further explores and quantifies the overall benefits of HID systems by direct comparison to conventional halogen systems. It examines and compares two systems producing typical Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) J1383 beam patterns. Subjects perform a visual tracking task, cognitively similar to driving, while seated in the driver's seat of a test vehicle. Simultaneously, small targets located at various angles in the periphery are activated, with subjects releasing a switch upon detection so that reaction times can be measured.
Technical Paper

Luminance versus Luminous Intensity as a Metric for Discomfort Glare

Photometric performance specifications for vehicle headlamp specifications in North America are given in terms of luminous intensity values at various angular locations with the objective of providing sufficient illumination for forward visibility while controlling for glare toward oncoming and preceding vehicle drivers. Abundant evidence suggests that luminous intensity is an appropriate metric for characterizing the degree to which a headlamp can produce disability glare through veiling luminances under a wide range of viewing conditions. Notwithstanding that discomfort glare exhibits a differential spectral sensitivity from the photopic luminous efficiency function used to characterize light, luminous intensity does not always predict discomfort glare. For example, the luminance of the luminous element(s) can be more predictive of discomfort when headlamps are viewed from relative close distances.
Technical Paper

A Novel Barricade Warning Light System Using Wireless Communications

Workers in construction and transportation sectors are at increased risk for work-related injuries and fatalities by nearby traffic. Barricade-mounted warning lights meeting current specifications do not always provide consistent and adequate visual guidance to drivers and can contribute to glare and reduced safety. Through an implementation of sensors and wireless communications, a novel, intelligent set of warning lights and a tablet-based interface were developed. The lights modulate between 100% and 10% of maximum intensity rather than between 100% and off in order to improve visual guidance and adjust their overall intensity based on ambient conditions. The lights can be synchronized or operated in sequential flash patterns at any frequency between 1 and 4 Hz, and sequential patterns automatically update based on global positioning satellite (GPS) locations displayed in the control interface.
Journal Article

Vehicle Lighting and Modern Roundabouts: Implications for Pedestrian Safety

Modern roundabout facilities are increasing in number throughout North America and the world. Appropriate vehicle lighting, including the application of intelligent headlighting systems, might help support safe, efficient driving behavior while navigating through these new intersection types. We present the results of a field study conducted to compare different vehicle lighting systems in terms of drivers' ability to detect and identify pedestrian activity, under different amounts of illumination from fixed outdoor lighting systems. The results are compared to analytical predictions of visibility using a validated visual performance model.
Journal Article

Headlamp Levelness and Glare: Preliminary Analyses Based on Field Data

Vehicle headlamps are essential for driver safety at night, and technological evolution of headlamps over several decades has brought substantial improvements to driver visibility and comfort. Nonetheless, glare remains an important concern among many in the driving public, perhaps even more so in North America, where requirements for headlamps differ from those in much of the rest of the world. In most of the world, headlamps producing higher luminous flux are required to have automatic leveling and cleaning systems, thought to help reduce glare. The arrival of headlamp systems in the worldwide marketplace with luminous flux values just below those triggering requirements for leveling and cleaning systems will bring new questions about the causes of and countermeasures for glare.