Why Are Highways So Dark at Night?

Driving on a highway at night, have you ever wondered why there aren’t many street lights? It’s not a mistake; it’s actually on purpose. But what are the reasons behind this?

From safety and cost to comfort and nature care, there’s a lot that goes into the decision to keep highways dark. Unlike city streets, highways are designed for fast cars, not for people walking or cycling. Street lights could actually make things dangerous by causing distracting shadows or even a sort of trance, making drivers less safe, not more.

Ready to dive deeper into the mystery of unlit highways? Buckle up, and let’s go!

Safety Spotlight: How Do Dark Highways Keep Us Safe?

Highways are made for speed, and safety means good visibility without distractions. Imagine driving fast and all you see are quick flashes of light and dark — confusing, right? That’s why highways avoid too many lights. Instead, they use car headlights and shiny signs to guide the way. In fact, the American Automobile Association (AAA) warns that the wrong lighting can create glares and tricky shadows. Not something you want when you’re zooming down the road!

Money Matters: Why Are Street Lights So Pricey?

Installing street lights along highways isn’t cheap. Imagine lighting up miles of road, paying huge electric bills, and fixing lights when they break. In areas where few people drive at night, it’s like wasting money on lights for an empty room! For instance, in Utah, USA, it costs up to $300,000 to light just one mile of highway. That’s without counting regular bills for electricity and repairs. Makes you think twice about lighting up every highway, huh?

Comfort Cruise: Can There Be Too Much Light?

Night driving is a balancing act. We need light to see, but too much can be exhausting. Ever felt blinded by oncoming headlights or flashy billboards? That’s what we want to avoid on highways. Non-stop bright lights can also cause a weird flickering effect, making drivers feel dizzy or even lost. Plus, did you know it takes our eyes up to 30 minutes to adjust to the dark? Constant bright lights reset this process, and that’s a big no-no for driver comfort!

Smart Solutions: Are Vehicle Headlights and Road Markings Sufficient?

Today’s cars come with super-smart lights that make extra street lights often unnecessary. There are even adaptive headlights that follow the road as you steer, something street lights can’t do. And don’t forget about those shiny road markers; they significantly help drivers see at night, reducing accidents. Not to forget, specific landmarks like the iconic Golden Gate Bridge use specialized, high-intensity lighting, ensuring safety without creating light pollution.

Eco-friendly Roads: What Are the Consequences of Excessive Lighting?

Too much artificial light doesn’t just affect drivers; it also messes with nature. Animals that are active at night can get confused, and too much light can even affect the whole ecosystem, according to the International Dark-Sky Association. That’s why in places like the areas around the Grand Canyon, keeping the night sky dark is a big deal for both nature and stargazing fans.

Maintenance Hurdles: What’s the Big Deal with Upkeep?

Keeping highway lights on isn’t just about changing a few bulbs. It’s a big job that involves planning road closures and working in the dark, often in dangerous conditions. Imagine trying to fix lights in the remote Australian Outback — it’s not only tough but also super expensive. That’s why lights are only placed where they’re absolutely needed.

Strategic Illumination: Where Highways Get Lit

Not all parts of the highway are pitch black. Places like big interchanges, toll booths, and accident-prone areas get their fair share of light. It’s all about what’s practical and safe. So, even if most of the highway is dark, you’ll find well-lit spots just when you need them the most. Here are specific locations on highways where you’ll typically find lighting:

  1. Interchanges and Junctions: These are areas where traffic merges or exits, and good visibility is crucial to prevent accidents. Lighting helps drivers navigate these potentially complex areas.
  2. Toll Booths: These areas require drivers to reduce speed and perform precise actions, like paying a toll or taking a ticket. Adequate lighting ensures drivers can see booth infrastructure and personnel clearly.
  3. Tunnels: Since natural light doesn’t reach inside a tunnel, artificial lighting is necessary to ensure drivers can see the roadway and any potential obstacles.
  4. Accident-Prone Areas: Sections of the highway known for a higher incidence of accidents might have lighting to improve visibility and safety.
  5. Rest Areas: These spots are designated for drivers to take breaks, and they need to be well-lit for security and comfort.
  6. Construction Zones: Areas under construction require additional lighting for the safety of both the workers and the drivers passing through the zone.
  7. Bridges: Similar to tunnels, bridges sometimes have lighting, especially if they’re part of a larger structural complex or in urban areas.
  8. Sharp Curves: Sections of the highway with sharp or blind curves may have lighting to help drivers navigate the turns more safely, especially in regions prone to fog or other low-visibility conditions.

These lights are generally brighter and more concentrated than those you’d find on a local street because they need to be visible at higher speeds.

Global Lights: How Do Other Countries Do It?

Every country has its own way of lighting up highways. While places like the Netherlands or South Korea have more lights due to more people and cars, others prefer keeping their highways darker to protect nature and save money. For example, Sweden’s “Vision Zero” focuses on safety but also cares about the environment, choosing smart lights over lighting up every inch of the highway.

Revolutionizing Infrastructure: Our Cutting-Edge LED Lighting Solution for Bridges and Highways

In 2011, our company embarked on a groundbreaking project to illuminate the Bay Bridge, the world’s longest sea-crossing bridge, spanning over 36 kilometers with a four-lane dual carriageway that is 17 meters wide. This venture marked a global first, where we implemented low-pole LED lighting technology, abandoning the conventional high-pole lamps. The lighting standards, including illumination, uniformity, and glare values, fully comply with global norms, achieving energy savings of over 50%.

We supplied more than 60,000 sets of lighting fixtures, uniquely designed to serve dual purposes: ensuring road safety and enhancing aesthetic appeal. This innovation was an industry-first, our proprietary product, which stood out among bids from over thirty competitors due to its leading-edge technology.

The LED lights used for the bridge are equipped with imported Cree LEDs from the USA and Meanwell outdoor power supplies, ensuring remarkable stability and minimal maintenance requirements. Thanks to the low-height installation, any necessary maintenance is significantly more convenient. The luminaires feature a uniquely designed reflective cup for light emission, providing soft and uniform lighting, which is non-dazzling and glare-free. The surface treatment employs AkzoNobel powder for corrosion resistance, which, when tested according to WF2 standards, showed no issues after 240 hours. This product has been implemented in the Qingdao Jiaozhou Bay Bridge’s lighting project for over a decade now, with zero quality complaints reported.

This innovative product, borne of our company’s expertise and commitment to quality, stands as an excellent solution for bridge or highway lighting needs worldwide.

20W IP66 LED low-altitude street lights


15W IP66 LED low-altitude street lights


As we’ve delved into the intricacies behind the vast, unlit stretches of our highways, it’s evident that the darkness is a deliberate, multifaceted decision, rather than a mere absence of technology. The reasons span across ensuring driver safety and comfort, to managing economic costs, preserving the environment, and addressing maintenance challenges. This strategic absence of light compels a reliance on vehicle headlights, the strategic use of reflective materials, and selective lighting in critical zones.

However, the areas that do necessitate lighting require not just any solution, but one that is innovative, sustainable, and efficient. This is where our groundbreaking product, the IP66 LED low-altitude street lights, comes into play. Designed to cater specifically to the unique needs of highway and bridge lighting, these lights embody the delicate balance between providing sufficient illumination and minimizing environmental impact, maintenance needs, and energy costs.

Our journey doesn’t end at merely understanding the reasons behind unlit highways; it extends to recognizing the need for and implementing smarter, more considerate lighting solutions where they are truly needed.

Are you involved in infrastructure development or municipal planning? Perhaps you’re a concerned citizen passionate about enhancing road safety and ecological preservation. Whichever the case, when the situation calls for illuminated thoroughfares, it’s imperative to choose solutions that don’t compromise on safety, sustainability, or efficiency. We invite you to consider the IP66 LED low-altitude street lights — a testament to innovation in creating a harmonious relationship between human convenience and environmental responsibility. These lights are not just a product; they are a commitment — to safer roads, clearer skies, and a more sustainable future. Explore what it means to light the way forward responsibly. Because when we choose to illuminate, we must do it wisely. Contact us now.

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