Should you place LED lights around your stop paddles?

Visibility is a critical element in safety, especially when your project involves traffic control. Consider what you’re working with. You have a work site that is exposed to oncoming traffic. The vehicles on the roadway could be traveling anywhere from 20 miles per hour to 50 or even higher. And most drivers are not trained to drive carefully around construction sites. So, it is crucial that you see the vehicle operators—and that they see you.

The solution for some traffic controllers is to illuminate themselves and increase their visibility. Thomas Alva Edison may have invented the light bulb, but many others have since improved upon the concept of light emission. One development is the LED, which produces a wealth of light from relatively tiny bulbs. We often now see LEDs attached to Stop/Slow paddles in our work in traffic control.

Everything In Moderation

As it turns out, this is perhaps too much of a good thing. You have undoubtedly heard the expression, “Everything in moderation.” This saying is often misunderstood. The original intended meaning of the expression was “everything in its right measure.” You don’t necessarily need slight or moderate light on everything. Rather, some things require light, and some do not.

Enjoy the video.

Light and Traffic Control

This is often the case with Stop paddles for traffic control. Indeed, we want to be visible, and we want to be able to communicate with drivers in a transparent manner. We have seen more than a few paddles covered with illumination devices. This is particularly dangerous in the evening hours. The LEDs emit so much light that you cannot read the original message, be that STOP or SLOW or any other displayed message until you are perilously close. This light can also obscure colors and patterns on the paddle so that you cannot distinguish which side of the paddle you’re being shown, especially when both sides have the original octagon shape.

Do Lighting Right

The most recently updated MUTCD and Watch Manual technically only allow lighting to be placed above and below the words in the center. So, outlining your paddle in lighting is a violation and should not be performed. We understand the importance of visibility in traffic control, so we recommend using retroreflective materials on paddles and on safety vests.

It is difficult to describe how bright LEDs or other light sources can obscure your traffic paddles, so we have prepared a video to discuss this subject more in-depth. Please take a few moments to watch our video to see how important it is to illuminate the paddle properly.


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