solar highway lighting system

Solar Lighting for Rural Intersections

Utah’s DOT recently installed solar lighting for rural intersections in Millard County, improving safety.  Roads are one of the critical areas of need for rural infrastructure.  Millard County used a BUILD grant in 2020 for the roadway improvements.

Rural intersections in the United States are dangerous.  In 2018 the National Highway and Safety Administration compared rural and urban traffic fatalities. For example, only 19% of the population lived in rural areas, but 45% of the 37,560 traffic fatalities were in rural areas. *  Crashes often occur at night and at intersections.

Does Lighting Improve Intersection Safety?

Studies show that lighting improves intersection safety.  A report published by the Minnesota Department of Transportation reviews five separate studies on intersection accidents. They suggest that lighting for rural, at-grade intersections reduces nighttime crashes and their severity.  The published research concludes that this lighting resulted in a 25 to 50 percent reduction in the night crash rates.

At night in rural areas, vehicle headlights are the only source of lighting for roadways. Roadway lighting allows for greater visibility of the intersection. It also helps drivers navigate through the intersection by making signs and markings more visible.

“The installation of streetlights at rural intersections is a low cost and very effective strategy for mitigating nighttime crashes. This strategy should be added to the traffic engineer’s toolbox and agencies should be encouraged to increase the use of streetlights at rural intersections in order to reduce crashes and improve motorist guidance.” – SAFETY IMPACTS OF STREET LIGHTING AT ISOLATED RURAL INTERSECTIONS

What are the Barriers to Lighting Rural Intersections?

The costs for adding lighting to isolated intersections can be high. Installation costs can include long wire runs, trenching and conduit. Ongoing expenses include maintenance and the cost of electric energy. Engineers need to account for the risk of a vehicle hitting the streetlight too.

Solar Lighting for Rural Intersections

Solar lighting for rural intersections is an elegant solution. Because solar streetlights are completely autonomous, installation is fast and easy. And there is no need for extra infrastructure to bring power to the site.  This eliminates the need for trenching, conduit, and transmission lines. Breakaway anchor bolt options address concerns about light pole collisions. LEDs and advanced battery options reduce maintenance cost.  Because they are solar powered, there is no electric bill either.

Reliability is Important Too

Choosing an unreliable solar lighting system can create a whole new set of problems.  It’s important to select a commercial grade solar lighting system. The system should be specific to your location and application.  This should include:

  • An energy balance analysis based on your project’s geographic location
  • A lighting layout based on the worst-case conditions, reflecting any energy adjustments in winter
  • A 365-day analysis of the battery state of charge

Another way to protect yourself is to look for a supplier with lots of experience in commercial applications over time.  For example, Fonroche has delivered over 100,000 streetlights worldwide over the past 10 years.  This includes projects of 1 to 50,000 light poles.

To get started on a design for your intersection, contact us for a free analysis of your project.

*Traffic Safety Facts  – A Comparison of Rural/Urban Traffic Fatalities – National Highway Traffic Safety Administration