Lighting study underway

"The purpose of [Monday's] test was in a small scale way is to see what if RPI had done in the laboratory could be replicated in real life, and based on what we saw we believe they've done that," Kennedy said.

Energy could be saved either by making more effective use of lighting or using different lighting sources entirely. In late July, there will be another one-night test when the sodium streetlights will be turned off and replaced by LED lighting, which casts a white light and is more energy efficient.

Researchers will take what they learn and deploy a multi-day test in the fall, when traffic can be observed reacting without hardhatted people standing about.

"Because it was not quite as a natural of an environment we don't fully know [the impact on traffic]," Bullough said.

Figuring out ways to have motorists slow down and yield properly at roundabouts could end up being a secondary result of the study.

The state DOT and local governments have been installing more and more circles all over the state, arguing they are a good way to minimize congestion and avoid high-speed accidents. Anecdotal evidence suggests not all motorists are comfortable with them yet and may travel the roundabouts too fast, which is one reason authorities are searching for ways to calm traffic and make motorists more aware of their surroundings as they approach.

"There definitely can be benefits to these kinds of roundabouts, and we think that lighting can really maximize those benefits," Bullough said.

After the fall test, a full report will be compiled.""

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