Office for Technology Commercialization

LED Lights Improve Snowplow Vehicle Visibility

Technology #20120039

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High-visibility and low-visibility comparisonLED Lights Improve Vehicle Visibility Snowplow Accidents are usually Rear End Collisions
Albert Yonas, PhD
Professor, Institute of Child Development
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Managed By
Leza Besemann
Technology Portfolio Manager 612-625-8615

Snowplow Vehicle Visibility Increased with LED Lights

Approximately 70 percent of all snowplow accidents result from drivers rear-ending a snowplow.  The University of Minnesota has developed an innovative lighting device that increases the vehicle visibility of snowplows under low-visibility conditions such as snow and fog.  Currently, reflective tape and flashing snowplow lights are used to increase vehicle visibility.  Reflective tape requires light to reflect off of the tape and is heavily susceptible to physical interference from snow or fog.  Snowplow lights provide an alert to oncoming drivers but provide drivers no indication of their relative motion to the snowplow. 

LEDs Can Decrease Snowplow Accidents

The light device uses strategically placed LEDs and an area of dark contrast. The device is based on the role of luminance contrast in the perception of motion.  The LEDs are placed adjacent to a black region which improves the retinal contrast during daylight conditions.  The response time for this type of system is 1.79 seconds compared to 1.96 seconds for flashing lights alone and can reduce the likelihood of snowplow accidents.


  • Makes a large vehicle more visible during low-visibility conditions (such as snow and fog)
  • Reduces the likelihood of snowplow rear-end accidents and improves crash avoidance
  • Can improve response time when compared to current lighting schemes by 9%