Road Deaths Increase On Badly-Lit Streets

324 More People Killed Or Seriously Injured On Streets Where Lights Have Been Turned Off

24.04.2014

There has been a substantial rise in the number of fatal road accidents in streets where lights have been switched off in order to save money.

New research obtained by the Times showed 324 more people were either killed or seriously injured in incidents that occurred along badly-lit routes in 2011-12 when compared with 2009-10. Deaths increased by 39 per cent, while serious injuries were up by 27 per cent over the same period.

Hundreds of thousands of street lamps had been switched off in order to cut down on carbon emissions, but these statistics suggest this move has jeopardised road safety standards.

This latest report has been published just a few weeks after the AA warned that turning off street lights is dangerous. Research carried out by the breakdown specialist showed that night-time accidents on 30 mph urban roads have fallen by 15.6 per cent over the last five years, but this figure fell to just two per cent on roads where lights are not present.

Between 2007 and 2012, a 19.6 per cent reduction in road accidents dropped to just 8.8 per cent along dark routes.

AA President Edmund King commented: "Worse accident rates on roads with street lights turned off or not present is an insidious threat that has crept in literally under the cover of darkness.

"Roads that are safe when lit can become unsafe with the lights switched off, but that is only shown when drivers, cyclists, bikers and pedestrians start to get hurt and killed."

The AA has urged the government to run funding programmes that enable councils to install eco-friendly lights, as this will ensure streets are safer, while also minimising power consumption.

A number of organisations, including road safety charity Brake, have called for the clocks to be moved forward in the winter months in order to give drivers, cyclists and pedestrians an extra hour of daylight during peak traffic periods in the afternoon.

Expert Opinion
These figures are very concerning and highlight the need for further changes to keep motorists, cyclists and pedestrians safe.

“It is clear that further assessment is needed on road layout and existing safety measures before the decision is made to switch streetlights off in urban areas.

“We see on a daily basis the devastating injuries road users and pedestrians suffer as a result of insufficient safety precautions being implemented in dangerous or busy spots.

“We hope the results of these studies highlight to local councils the need to focus on safety, as well as reducing energy.”
Colin Ettinger, Partner