The DfT is carrying out research to assess whether traffic lights could be switched off during the night, according to the Telegraph.
The Telegraph says the DfT is investigating whether using traffic lights around the clock is justified and Portsmouth Council has volunteered to carry out trials on behalf of the Government.
Barry Rawlings, senior traffic systems engineer at Portsmouth City Council, said: "It can be extremely frustrating if you are on the road at two or three o’clock in the morning and forced to stop at a red light when no other cars are around.
“Turning the lights to flashing amber in these quiet periods would allow motorists to stop and go as they wish and keep delays to a minimum.”
The Telegraph says that Portsmouth will have to wait until the DfT has completed its own research and even then legislation would be needed before the council would be allowed to turn off the lights.
Norman Baker, local transport minister, said: “The DfT is currently investigating new options for the use of traffic signals when traffic volumes are low.
“However, in the interests of safety, it is important to ensure that any signalling technique provides a consistent and unambiguous message to all road users.”
Andrew Howard, head of road safety at the AA, voiced caution, saying: "It sounds like a great idea but I have concerns about how a trial can be implemented safely.
"By switching lights to flashing amber you may improve traffic flow, cut journey times and reduce pollution but it is not without its faults.
“First, there is the issue of who has priority if two cars reach the junction at the same time. The idea that drunks and young drivers are going to get to the flashing lights after midnight and say ‘after you’ is nonsense.”
Click here to read the full Telegraph report.