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Study: Pedestrians feel safer under white lights

"These facts should be seriously considered by lighting engineers," researchers argue.
By Brooks Hays   |   Feb. 1, 2016 at 11:21 AM

GRANADA, Spain, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- Researchers at the University of Granada interviewed 275 participants about their perceived level of safety after they walked down streets illuminated by varying levels and types of public lighting.

Those who walked down streets lit by white light reported feeling safer than those who walked down streets illuminated by yellow light. Regardless of the type of light, higher levels of illumination made pedestrians feel safer.

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"This marked preference for more light is now less of a drawback because modern LED lighting permits higher levels of illuminance with low electricity consumption," researchers reported in their new study on the subject, published this week in the journal Safety Science.

Civil engineers and urban planners have expressed reservations about white light due to the associated high levels of light pollution. But the latest survey results suggest its illuminating powers make pedestrians feel safest.

White light allows for better facial identification, which may be one reason pedestrians feel safer when walking beneath it.

Whatever the reason, researchers say it's time for urban planners to give greater credence to the psychology of pedestrians -- instead of worrying solely about economics.

"These facts should be seriously considered by lighting engineers, urban planners, and city administrators when making difficult decisions about the design of lighting installations," researchers wrote.

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