Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 | 5:21 p.m.
Las Vegas has ruled out one suspect in its search for root causes behind high numbers of vehicle-pedestrian accidents after a report to the council today on the brightness of city streetlights.
Las Vegas switched its roughly 40,000 streetlights from high-pressure sodium bulbs to light emitting diodes (LEDs) starting in 2010 as part of a sustainability effort that saves the city $1.7 million annually in electricity costs.
But some council members at a meeting last month questioned whether the energy-efficient bulbs were as bright as the ones they replaced, positing that the low light made it difficult to spot pedestrians in crosswalks or on sidewalks, contributing to accidents.
Today, Public Works staff reported back to the council after comparing the brightness of the two types of bulb and finding that the currently installed LEDs are significantly brighter than their predecessors. In fact, Public Works director Jorge Cervantes said, the number of pedestrian fatalities at night has been decreasing since the LEDs were installed, although it’s impossible to draw a direct link between the two.
“We can say the lights aren’t having a negative impact on nighttime pedestrians, which was a concern,” Cervantes said. “The numbers tend to show there’s actually a pattern of the percentage of nighttime fatalities going down. ”
Public Works conducted the study by measuring illumination output of 600 streetlights in 21 different parts of the city, covering all six of its wards. The study looked at lighting along different road types, from major arterials to residential streets.
In all cases, the average light output far surpassed standards set by the Illumination Engineers Society of North America, Cervantes said.