Streetlights

Switching off could lead to more crashes and crime

switching off streetlights could lead to more crashes and crime

7 September 2010

Across the country councils have been switching off the lights and the Highways Agency has switched off some motorway lights. There is a fear that in some areas this could lead to more crashes and crime.

AA president Edmund King said: "Lighting can improve safety for drivers, riders, and pedestrians and deter street crime. The public are in favour of street lighting as a way of improving road safety. Cyclists and pedestrians are more at risk on unlit streets.

"Local authorities should consider more environmentally friendly lighting, that can save them £46 a light, rather than putting us all in the dark. In terms of reducing CO2, AA research shows that local authorities will have more effect improving traffic flow than turning off the lights."

Lighting can improve safety for drivers An AA study shows that driving outside of daylight hours is more dangerous – only a quarter of all travel by car drivers is between the hours of 7pm and 8am, yet this period accounts for 40% of fatal and serious injuries.

A Department for Transport study found 63.8% agreed that 'improved street lighting would lead to less accidents on the roads'.

On urban main roads a reduction in accidents involving injuries of 30% can be expected at night following an improvement in the lighting from very bad to good.

Night-time fatalities

Low illumination is a major contributory factor in the night-time fatality rate.

  • On motorways, 2.6% of accidents are fatal where street lighting is present, compared to 4.3% of accidents where it is not.
  • On built up roads, 1.3% of accidents are fatal where street lighting is present, compared to 1.9% where it is not.
  • On non-built up roads 3.1% of accidents are fatal in lit conditions, rising to 4.9% in areas without street lights.

Turning off some street lights to save money or reduce CO2 may backfire in terms of increased accidents and crime.

  • In the dark drivers' reactions tend to be slower and stopping distances longer
  • Street lighting can reduce the risk of crashes and their severity
  • The public are in favour of street lighting as a way of improving road safety
  • Cyclists and pedestrians are more at risk on unlit streets

Local authorities should consider more environmentally friendly lighting or only switching off lights late at night where they are not required rather than putting us all in the dark.

Join the discussion in the AA zone

 

7 September 2010