Motorists express ‘legitimate concerns’ about driving in the dark

12.15 | 11 January 2022 | | 4 comments

Decisions about when and where street lights are switched off must be made with road safety as the top priority and with full consultation of local residents.

That’s the verdict of IAM RoadSmart, on the back of a survey in which the majority of respondents said that switching off street lights has had a negative impact on personal safety and road safety.

Lack of visibility (60%), colliding with a pedestrian (45%) and being at risk if your vehicle breaks down (42%) were ranked as the biggest concerns about getting behind the wheel in the dark.

Meanwhile, 57% of those surveyed agreed that unlit streetlights made their neighbourhood feel less safe.

IAM RoadSmart says motorists have ‘legitimate concerns’ about driving in the dark.

Neil Greig, director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart, said: “While IAM RoadSmart supports efforts to decrease carbon emissions and acknowledges the financial pressures faced by local authorities, such concerns expressed by drivers should serve as a reminder to decision makers that motorists possess legitimate concerns about driving in the dark. 

“Therefore, any decision of when and where lights are switched off must be made with road safety as the top priority and with full consultation of local residents.” 

According to the survey, nearly a quarter (23%) of respondents agreed that the prospect of walking on an unlit road would make them more likely to drive home over the drink driving limit rather than walking.  

Neil Greig added: “With over 35 million drivers on the roads, this statistic means that there could be over eight million motorists tempted to get behind the wheel after a drink. 

“While this is totally unacceptable, this also goes to show the fears some drivers have about walking in unlit areas.”



Comment on this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Report a reader comment

Order by Latest first | Oldest first | Highest rated | Lowest rated

    Robert: Conventional motorways are sometimes without street lighting as well, so exactly the same problem could occur. If a vehicle breaks down in lane two or three, they also would be sitting ducks as they woud be unable to reach the conventional hard shoulder. It’s not unique to smart M/ways – it’s any road where drivers do not look ahead to where they’re going! What about unlit rural A roads?

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Lighting might be ‘Nice to Have’ but there is one area where I believe it is essential. It is an area where I drive in fear in the dark without street lighting.
    This is Smart Motorways. It is now recognised how dangerous Smart Motorways are at any time. If anyone beaks down on a Smart Motorway in the dark (even worse if he breakdown includes an electrical failure) how easy is it for HE cameras to spot a stationery vehicle in the middle of the motorway in the dark? How easy is it for other drivers to do the same thing? On a Smart Motorway there is no hard shoulder so the driver of the broken down vehicle has to either have the luck to be able to manoeuvre the vehicle to one of the break sown areas or they have to sit it out and pray in the dark, I believe that all Smart Motorways without Street Lighting should revert immediately to having a hard shoulder,

    Robert Bolt, Saint Albans
    Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

    Lighting is a “nice to have” service but not a legal requirement to provide it. But don’t forget the rural population that have lived without streetlights “forever”. They have a habit of taking a decent torch with them.

    Also, I wonder if the survey enquired of councils who went through the process of turning off thousands of street lights years ago and the many who have recorded that some perceptions and concerns have not translated into reality? e.g no increase in burglaries/thefts . no increase in road casualties attributable to lights out.

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (4) | Disagree (1)

    Those surveyed who had concerns about driving in the dark, presumably drive slower and cautiously to compensate for the lack of visibility …of course they do!

    Similarly, those pedestrians who feel unsafe walking on unlit roads, particularly in rural roads dress so they can be easily seen in the dark rather than in dark clothing…of course they do! Of course, I am only speaking from my experiences where I live – it may be totally different elsewhere!

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (5) | Disagree (0)

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.