Optimizing Work Zone LightingAuthor/Presenter: Bullough, John D.; Rea, Mark S.
Work zones are inherently complex and confusing visual environments, where the usual patterns of traffic flow are perturbed, and where lights used by workers for task visibility can create glare not only to workers but to nearby drivers. The use of delineation and signage, in addition to warning lights that may be flashing, can all contribute to “visual chaos.” The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) commissioned the present study to address and begin to overcome these issues. The objective of the present study was to identify the needs of workers and drivers in different work zone environments, and to review existing knowledge about ways in which lighting practices and technologies can be deployed to provide workers with sufficient illumination while minimizing glare and confusion to all individuals in and near the work zone. Following a literature review of recently published information on lighting and traffic control in work zones, and a questionnaire of safety engineers, technical analyses of illumination systems, signage and delineation materials, and warning lights were undertaken. The results of the technical analyses led to the development of several preliminary guidelines for illumination system selection/layout, application of sign and delineation devices and materials, and the use and control of warning lights to provide workers and nearby drivers with visual information in work zones. Implementation of the preliminary guidance in the present report can assist NJDOT in improving visual conditions in several different types of work zones through lighting that maintains visual performance while reducing glare and distraction from excessively bright lights.