Massachusetts Medical Society: Testimony in Support of House Bill 2692 and Senate Bill 1833 before the Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy

Testimony in Support of House Bill 2692 and Senate Bill 1833 before the Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy

The Massachusetts Medical Society is in support of these identical bills that would limit excess lighting produced by state-funded outdoor lighting.  Much of the light generated by roadway and security lighting never achieves its intended purpose.  It never lights anyone’s way, or produces any security, visibility, or guidance to anyone.  Instead, it shines straight up into the sky.  In contrast, well-designed lighting illuminates the ground without the overuse of energy and without being a burden or a nuisance to the environment or other people and property.  The most straightforward means to create a glare-free nighttime environment is to utilize fully-shielded lighting fixtures which emit all of their light downward (below the horizontal) and none of it directly up into the sky.

While there are significant energy savings and environmental advantages to adopting fully shielded lighting fixtures, the Massachusetts Medical Society is particularly concerned about the medical and safety implications of the current unfettered outdoor lighting.  Poorly designed lighting causes harsh glare that blinds and distracts drivers, especially in bad weather and for drivers with poor visibility – this disparately affects our older patients, particularly those with cataracts.  Thus, many individuals are faced with the choice of driving under unsafe conditions or severely limiting their mobility at night due to unnecessary and easily preventable glare.  This bill would be a positive step in remedying this problem.  

This bill would encourage energy-efficient lighting practices throughout the Commonwealth by requiring state-funded projects to use fully-shielded exterior lighting in new or replacement installations, and to install that lighting only where it is needed.  These steps will result in lowered energy consumption and less glare. It would not add to project costs, because well-designed, fully-shielded lighting is now commonly available from a wide range of manufacturers.

We urge the Committee to act favorably on H.2692/S.1833.

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