Following an article in The Times which suggested that road casualties are rising where streetlights have been turned off, Road Safety Analysis (RSA) has carried out a ‘micro study’ to shed more light on this issue.
The Times’ report suggests that there has been a 20% rise in casualties over four years, with 324 more people killed or seriously injured in crashes at night where streetlights were unlit in 2011 and 2012, compared to the previous two-year period.
Using its MAST online analysis tool, RSA found “slightly different numbers when looking at all casualties”, but confirmed that the Times’ statistics were “broadly accurate”.
However, RSA then went further back to 2005 to see whether this recent increase in casualties was part of a long-term trend (see graph above). This highlighted a big drop in casualties in 2010, probably in part due to the extreme winter weather which occurred that year. RSA’s analysis shows that while there has been an increase in casualties in 2011/12, that increase is only “back to levels similar to those prior to 2010”.
RSA’s micro study concludes: “Of course, The Times’ article was prompted by the decisions made by highway authorities in recent years to turn off or dim street lights and therefore the increase could be seen in this context, rather than the longer period that preceded 2009.
“What we really need to know in order to carry out a robust assessment of this ‘phenomenon’ goes beyond what can be achieved with STATS19 alone.”
RSA outlines the “data shopping list” it would need to undertake a comprehensive study, and concludes: “Until this is carried out we feel that these results are simply speculation and cannot be regarded as a robust, although The Times should certainly be congratulated for tackling the subject and raising an important issue.”