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Use of Equipment Lighting During Snowplow Operation

Started: November, 2014 Ended: November, 2015 Project ID #4W5243 Status: Completed

Results & Findings

The final report includes numerous recommendations for agencies to help them select the right lighting package, mounting location and available technologies to improve the illumination for snow operators and travelling public. Highlights include: 1) LEDs are favored for use in new vehicles, retrofits, and replacements due to improved visibility. However, it is important to have some mechanism to keep the lights clear of snow because LEDs do not produce enough heat to melt snow and ice off the light surface. 2) For warning lights, amber is the color most commonly used for warning lights. However, agencies are using and/or testing blue, white, and green colors. Operators prefer white colored warning lights because of perceived increased conspicuity during low visibility (e.g., fog, storm conditions, etc.) conditions. 3) It is important to have both flashing lights and steady burning (constant burn) lights that are spaced apart for rear warning lights. Flashing lights help to identify the presence of a plow and steady burn lights aid in the estimation of the relative speed of plow. 4) Retro-reflective tape markings are very effective and provide an additional level of warning for approaching vehicles. However, keeping retro-reflective markings clear of snow and visible at all times is an issue during snow plowing operations. 5) The issue of increased brightness introduced by warning lights can be resolved by using day-versus-night settings for lights on snowplow vehicles, but this feature is not commonly available.

Objective

The objectives of this research are to summarize the state-of-the-practices of light use and configurations and make recommendations on the use of various lighting technologies and mounting techniques on winter maintenance vehicles. Final project documents and research brief http://clearroads.org/project/use-of-equipment-lighting-during-snowplow-operations/

Abstract

Automotive lighting has made significant advances in the past several decades. In addition to programmable strobes, improved incandescent sealed beams and individual bulbs, xenon, halogen and LED technologies are quite common now and provide a wide range of capabilities and configurations for working and warning lights. Daytime visibility has greatly improved but at night (or in dimly lit tunnels) the brightness of these lights can make it difficult for approaching motorists to safely see. Additionally, solid-state circuitry allows for an endless number of flash, sequential and steady mode combinations on light bars and arrow boards. These rapidly changing and inconsistent patterns tend to confuse motorists. The goal of the proposed research project is to summarize the best practices used by state Departments of Transportation (DOTs) with regard to headlights, working lights, and warning light technology used on maintenance vehicles, specifically but not limited to snow plows. The objectives of this research are to summarize the state-of-the-practices of light use and configurations and make recommendations on the use of various lighting technologies and mounting techniques on winter maintenance vehicles.

Contacts

Files & Documents

Sponsors & Partners

  • Clear Roads Winter Highway Operation Pooled Fund Sponsor
  • Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) Sponsor

Related Information

Part of: Winter Maintenance and Effects, Cold Climate Operations & Systems

Project Tagged In: winter maintenance, snow and ice control

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