Arizona DOT explores solar lighting to save on fuel

Vehicles from the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) are pulling off to the side with emergency lights running to alert drivers of workers as the agency continues to look into using solar power to run these emergency lights.

To use emergency lights, the vast majority of roadside crews need to keep their vehicles running, which results in engines idling, says ADOT. Idling vehicles waste fuel and emit pollution.

The agency currently has 46 vehicles that equipped with solar-powered lights in order to cut down on fuel consumption as well as emissions.

“This solar lights program is part of an agency commitment to use tax dollars wisely,” John Nichols, director of administrative services for ADOT, said in a written statement “Having emergency lights that can operate without an engine running saves all of us money on vehicle maintenance. It reduces wasted fuel and helps the environment while still meeting the safety needs of ADOT workers.”

ADOT’s test of solar emergency lights has been going on for the past year, focusing on how well they work in Arizona’s varied climates and temperature extremes.

ADOT plans to install solar emergency lights on 50 additional vehicles during the next several months that will incorporate improvements such as battery packs with a higher heat tolerance, an improved remote control unit with more power level indicators and more lights inside the light bar while testing continues over the next year.

“We see this as blazing a new trail to save limited transportation funds that can be better used to help maintain a safe and efficient state highway system for years to come,” Nichols said.