A new report reveals that the accident risk for pedestrians could treble as a number of local authorities consider switching off their streetlights in a bid to save money.
The report from Autoglass, conducted by Dr Nick Gkikas, reveals that 78% of motorists say that switching off streetlights is a ‘dangerous and appalling idea’, and 30% of respondents believe local councils should carry out consultations before implementing the measure. The report compares fatalities in areas with similar surroundings, where lighting was either poor or adequate.
Other findings reveal that driving in poor lighting conditions is further heightened around the time of year when the clocks change. The frequency of road accidents in the dark increases four-fold during the week after the change, as road users take up to a week to adapt their behaviour to the new lighting conditions. With 62% of motorists regularly driving in the dark, the report concludes that this highlights a danger.
The report also revealed that 50% of motorists are concerned that switching off lighting will jeopardise pedestrians’ safety, 40% believe that it will put cyclists at risk, and 35% noted a potential impact on motorists’ safety. 27% acknowledge that turning off the lights will affect their ability to see hazards clearly.
Councils in Buckinghamshire, Leicestershire, Somerset and Essex have already turned off street lights, and similar schemes are already planned across Swansea, Devon and parts of Yorkshire. Seven stretches of motorway have also been plunged into darkness until 5am every night.
Matthew Mycock, managing director of Autoglass, said: “The Highways Agency has already admitted there could be an increase in accident rates as a result of turning off road lighting.
“We are calling for local authorities to seriously consider the locations of the blackouts and the potential use of alternative measures such as dimming the lights, turning off every alternative light or switching to low energy lamps.”
Dr Nick Gkikas added: “While we’re not suggesting it is impossible to implement energy saving schemes without compromising road safety, our report clearly shows that more thought needs to be given to the detailed factors behind visibility-related accidents. At the moment it all seems rushed, and decision-makers haven’t realised what is at stake.”
For more information visit the Autoglass website.