On an evening in the winter of 2002, my grandfather, Isaac Hakimian of blessed memory, was hit by a car as he was attempting to cross Middle Neck Road in the Village of Great Neck.
The driver of the vehicle apologetically explained to my family that he was not speeding however as my grandpa was wearing a dark outfit he did not see him before the collision.
He was taken to North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset where he was diagnosed with a massive head trauma and brain damage. He spent six months at the Intensive Care Unit and subsequently he left the world.
He was a very modest man who others were inspired by his honesty, respect for others, love of the family, hard work and serenity.
The incident that led to my gradfather’s trauma and death and numerous similar other incidents wouldn’t have happened if sufficient lighting were employed.
At the time of my grandfather’s accident, the previous yellowish lights (referred to as sodium vapor lights) were utilized which unfortunately do not produce a discernible reflections from dark objects such as the dark road way, dark vehicles and people wearing blue or dark clothes.
As a result of seeing the discussions in our local publications, I decided to spend some time and research the choices of lighting systems and I am sharing my findings with your readers.
If one looks into the accident records in the five boroughs of New York City of the past decades, unfortunately, the data point to hundreds of people who were seriously injured, hospitalized, disabled or died as a result of the lighting had been insufficient. Fortunately, a good portion of the New York City already has upgraded to the new technology utilizing the LED lights.
It is physics, the human eye utilizes all the three components of the visible light (Red, Green and Blue) for a precise and clear vision.
The white light from the sun at (5,800 degrees kelvin) with the exception that its relative blue content is even more than the white street LED lights ( 3000-4000 degrees Kelvin) which are widely being used worldwide at the present. If one of the three components of the light is missing or insufficient, then it means that we are looking for trouble.
For example, if the blue content is missing then someone who is wearing blue cannot be seen as there is no reflections from his/her outfit.
All the three components are necessary for a decent vision of the roads and what is coming ahead of you. The blue content helps in distinguishing between gray and black (for example road and some wearing dark outfit).
The intensity of the sunlight 100,000 lux ( lux is the unit of light intensity passing through a unit area, Wikipedia) is 3300 times higher than the intensity of a typical LED street lights 30 lux directly under the light, 0.7 lux reflection from roadway (I acquired a lux meter and those who want to repeat my experiment can order online at a cost of $20-$30 verify).
The pupils help a bit in reducing the light that enters the eye and hits the retina.
The pupil diameters reduce from 8 mm in low light intensity to 2 mm in the highest intensity (Wikipedia, 4 to 1in diameter, 16 to 1 in area).
Still, the intensity of the light hitting the retina during the day light is 200 times stronger than the LED streetlights.
Therefore, it is understandable that if one was subjected to such high intensities as the daylights or maybe the intensity of a computer / cellphone screen (350 lux) for hours, she/he would have some reduction of the melatonin production leading to reduction of sleepiness and if done regularly it could cause a disruption of the circadian rhythm.
As a result, at such low levels of street lights the claim of loss of the circadian rhythm is ludicrous.
If one was to reconsider the choices for street lights, the choices are: Sodium vapor light, definitely is a bad choice, as they do not have sufficient blue content for accurate vision leading to accidents; Incandescent lights with sufficient blue content are energy inefficient and low life expectancy; Fluorescent lights are not as reliable and require high maintenance; oil lights which used to be used up to a century ago, are not good choice either due to risk of fire, pollution and insufficient blue content; Having no lights and asking people to stay home is nostalgic but (except for a small percentage of the residents) is not a long term solution.
In summary, the LED lights are by far the best choice.
Bitta Hematian Liviem
Village of Great Neck