Headlamps should illuminate the traffic scene ahead of the vehicle in such a way that the driver can operate the vehicle safely and in a relaxed manner. At the same time, negative effects on drivers of other vehicles, pedestrians and other people should be minimized. Various technical parameters such as beam pattern, mounting height, headlamp aiming, and source spectrum can be tuned to find the necessary compromise. The physiology of the vision system under specific night time conditions strongly influences these factors and how headlamps can be best optimized for visibility and comfort. The SAE Improved Roadway Illumination task force collected and reviewed relevant research on these topics. This document is a comprehensive summary of this information. The goal is to enable lighting experts, advocacy groups, and non-experts (journalists, consumer organizations, car drivers) to better understand the benefits and tradeoffs of improved roadway lighting with modern headlamp technology. It should be noted that all studies can not be included in this report, but the intent of this document is to provide the reader with a representative sample of the existing research as a starting point. Further, this document can be updated in the future to reflect new research findings.
Since this document was last updated, there has been significant technical and technological divergence from past practice in mobile lighting (e.g., headlamps) and fixed lighting (e.g., street lights). LEDs are rapidly gaining prevalence in both fixed and mobile roadway lighting, and their inherent and effective characteristics have driven new research which has in some cases produced results that warrant consideration for inclusion in this document so as to maintain its up-to-date relevance.