Lights are to be turned off on one of Britain’s busiest motorway stretches, raising fears from motoring groups that safety could be put at risk (Telegraph).
The Highways Agency has unveiled plans for the switch-off between midnight and 5am on the M1 between junction 10 at Luton and junction 13 at Milton Keynes, reports the Telegraph.
The news comes as the DfT looks to cut costs as its contribution to the Government’s austerity programme. The Highways Agency says that less than half of England’s 1,800 miles of motorway are lit, but the AA was has voiced concern over the choice of this 15-mile stretch, which will also be turned into a managed motorway with variable speed limits where drivers will also be allowed to use the hard shoulder at busy times.
Andrew Howard, the AA’s head of road safety, said: “We think there will be a number of operational issues. Where you can and can’t be is defined by signals and without lights there is a greater chance that people will make a mistake.”
The DfT has been keen to cut running costs and turning off the lights has been tested on parts of the M2, M4, M5 and M27. Switching the lights off is also seen as having the additional advantage of cutting carbon emissions.
Similar initiatives have been tried by a number of local authorities on local roads with mixed results, and, according to the Telegraph, many other councils have opted for installing equipment which dims lights rather than switches them off altogether.
The HA’s Derek Turner has defended the move, saying: “Since 2009 we’ve switched lighting off between the hours of midnight and 5am on 14 carefully-selected stretches of motorways and evidence so far indicates that this hasn’t had an impact on safety.
“In March this year we also began permanently switching off motorway lights at three sites.
"This is not about wishing to remove all lights from the motorway network. It’s about carefully identifying the locations where, under the revised guidelines, we would no longer install lighting.
“The money saved could then be used for other measures on the strategic road network where it would have a more significant safety benefit and potentially save more lives.”
Click here to read the full Telegraph report