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Japan finds LED traffic signals a potential hazard

Japan finds LED traffic signals a potential hazard

By BizLED Bureau

August 7, 2015: Although LED traffic lights are a cool way to cut down electricity costs, Japanese police find it too cool to be used as traffic signals.

About 45% of Japan?s traffic signals are LED lights and this proportion is growing as the local authorities find it energy efficient compared to incandescent lights used as traffic lights.

But during the winter season in Japan, particularly in northern Japan, vehicle drivers fail to see the LED traffic signals properly as they get covered with snow, and LEDs are not warm enough to melt the snow that get accumulated on the traffic lights. As a result, this snow has to be removed manually, and this exercise needs to be done for almost 3-4 months, which is not only time-consuming but also costly. The police complaints that they do not have enough staff members to remove the snow as more and more LED traffic lights are being installed in Japan.

Why LED lights are not suitable as traffic lights?

Although many countries are using LED lights as traffic signals because they last longer, pierce the darkness more effectively and consume 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs. But many cold countries like the US complaint that as LEDs are not hot, it becomes a disadvantage in traffic light applications as they fail to melt the snow that covers their lenses, and cause many accidents.

LEDs are more thermally efficient than incandescent bulbs, as more of the electricity is turned into light and less into heat. But in the case of traffic lights in cold countries, this advantage becomes a major drawback. On the other hand, incandescent bulbs get hot and can melt the snow.

Photo courtesy: AP

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One comment

  1. Super Hydrophobic coatings available commercially in a few years should help with the snow sticking to the traffic lights.

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