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Lack of Street Lighting Making UK Roads Dangerous

By raccars Published

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Local councils which have turned off street lighting have put lives at risk, according to a new report which suggests six deaths have been caused by dark roads in the last five years. One cyclist and five pedestrians have been killed on dark roads where street lighting has been switched off.

About one in three local councils have switched off street lights in order to save money. Some 23 out of 71 local authorities questioned had switched off lighting from midnight-5am and 32 councils were using dimming bulbs, making streets darker.

In Bradford, street lighting has been reduced in a bid to save £400,000 per year and reduce energy consumption by a quarter. Essex County Council hopes it will save up to £1 million annually by moving to a reduced or 'part-night' lighting schedule. However, a study in April this year recorded that accident reduction figures had slowed in the years from 2007-2012 in areas without street lighting.

Investigations into the accidents concerned concluded that the drivers involved were unable to avoid collisions on dark streets when speed limits were at 40mph or more. Accident investigators warned that the situation would only get worse if local authorities continued to dim the lights. Road safety organisations have also been predicting that unlit roads would become dangerous if town halls continued to cut costs by turning off lights.

One particular case saw a coroner using the inquest into the death of 76 year old Margaret Beeson to castigate a council for turning off street lighting. The pensioner was killed when a car travelling below the speed limit hit and killed her on the A40 between Beaconsfield and Gerrards Cross in 2009. The driver was cleared of any fault in the accident due to the darkness of the streets, which meant he was unable to avoid hitting her.

A similar investigation into the death of 81-year-old Dr John Bendor-Samuel in 2011 concluded that street lighting could have saved his life. Buckinghamshire County Council had switched off the lighting at the scene of the accident in Studley Green in order to save money.

The problem has been identified as particularly serious in streets where the speed limit is 40mph or more. With no street lighting, drivers are by necessity slowing down and using full beam headlights on roads that were safe to travel on when illuminated by street lighting. Inquests into the accidents attributed to dark streets cleared the unfortunate drivers of blame.

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