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    Walk without worrying

    Preventing accidents


    White light doesn’t just make us feel safer – it can actually reduce the likelihood of motor accidents. Emerging research shows that white light provides helps pedestrians too, as they are less likely to trip over obstacles or on uneven footpaths.

    Closer look to a pole luminaire in a street illuminated with Philips white lighting

    A scientific look at white light


    The Lighting Research Center in Troy, New York investigated whether white light improves the peripheral vision of motorists. A special board was placed beside a stretch of road, simulating movement towards and away from the road. 13 subjects underwent a series of tests during the daytime, and then at night, with the road lit by CosmoWhite and yellow sodium lamps.


    A total of 686 separate trials were carried out, with the board moving in random patterns. When the board moved away from the road, drivers were expected to accelerate. When it moved towards the road, the driver was expected to brake.

    Philips white light effectively illuminates a street

    Revealing research


    The results showed a statistically significant difference in response times between white and yellow light for braking and accelerating. In both cases, the response time with white light was lower, suggesting that drivers could see the roadside object more quickly under white light.

    Busy street in a residential area lit by Philips

    The science behind the story


    In order for you to see an object, there needs to be a certain luminance difference (i.e. contrast) between the object and its background. The contrast detection threshold is the minimum difference required for the human eye to make out the object, without necessarily being able to perceive the colour or detail.


    A lower contrast threshold means that it is easier to detect an object. Tests show that white light gives a lower luminance threshold than yellow light, especially at low light levels. This means that it is easier to see people or other objects under white light. As a result, the low luminance threshold of white light contributes to improved safety for drivers and other road users.

    Residential area well-lit with Philips white light