A safety evaluation of UVA vehicle headlights

  • Published: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration (1999)
  • Authors: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration
  • Date Added: 25 Jan 2014
  • Last Update: 25 Jan 2014
  • Format: html


To determine the effectiveness of ultraviolet headlamp technology in the context of forward visibility studies


A field evaluation of ultraviolet (UVA) headlamps and fluorescent traffic control devices (TCDs) involved eight experimental procedures. The procedures were conducted on a closed series of roadways and involved objective and subjective methods. The visibility of roadway delineation and staged roadway scenes depicting pedestrians, bicycles, and disabled vehicles was compared using standard U.S. headlights, European specification headlights, and UVA headlights.

Key Findings:

  • The UVA headlights outperformed the U.S. headlights for all roadway delineation scenarios. With the UVA headlights, the edge line was visible 28.9 m, or 14.46%, farther away than with the U.S. headlights. The centerline with the UVA headlights was visible 27.67 m, or 49.35%, farther away. Both of these differences are highly significant.

  • Improvements in recognition distances were dramatic in three of the four scenarios. Although the more visually complex disabled vehicle scene was recognized 32.84 m sooner with the U.S. headlights compared to the UVA headlights, this was not statistically significant. The detection distance differences demonstrate that UVA/fluorescent technology does not work as well in some situations as it does in others.

  • Apparently, the dramatic increases in detection and recognition distances associated with the UVA headlights do not translate to a measurable change in the driver performance measures examined. This was probably because the relatively new delineation in combination with any of the headlights tested was more than adequate to optimize driver speed maintenance and lane tracking.

  • Analysis for possible interactions between age and headlight condition (U.S./UVA) found no significant difference. Thus, UVA headlights helped younger drivers and older drivers equally.


UltraViolet (UVA) headlamps