CONTACT: GARY GALLUZZO
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Iowa City IA 52242
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UI receives research contract to study enhancement of nighttime driving
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Public Policy Center recently
received a four-year, $131,000 contract from the Federal Highway Administration
to research and develop new technology to improve nighttime driving visibility.
The project, which is headed by the Virginia Tech Center for Transportation
Research, includes participants from the U.S. auto industry, manufacturers
of traffic sign and road marking materials, and the Virginia Department
Dr. Carole Simmons, UI transportation safety and visibility researcher,
will lead the UI team as principal investigator, along with co-principal
investigator Daniel McGehee, both of the Human Factors Research Program.
The project is a continuation of research begun in Sweden to improve
drivers' nighttime visibility using supplemental, ultraviolet (UV) headlights
in combination with fluorescent traffic signs and markings. Because UV
light is largely invisible to the human eye, it can be used in a high-beam
pattern without causing glare for on-coming drivers. When UV light falls
on a fluorescent object, it is absorbed and re-emitted at visible wavelengths,
making the object appear brighter. In preliminary tests, prototype fluorescent
pavement markings viewed under UV-supplemented headlights were significantly
more visible than standard markings. Pedestrian visibility is also improved
under UV headlights, due to fluorescent laundry brighteners. UV lighting
may also have an advantage in fog and other low visibility conditions.
Under the terms of the federal contract, the research team will conduct
additional experimental work, field tests, and demonstration of the UV/fluorescent
technology. Economic and market analyses will also be used to determine
effective strategies for the use of the technology.