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Street Lighting Proven Road Safety Feature

By raccars Published

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A new report suggests that cash-saving local authority measures that see street lights turned off are endangering road users. The accident rate is 17% higher on dark roads than those featuring street lighting.

Motorists, cyclists and pedestrians are all at risk from schemes that see local councils switch off street lighting earlier in the mornings, to save money. Government accident statistics suggest that the number of accidents taking place during the hours of darkness in urban areas with street lighting has fallen by 18.6% over the last five years. The figure improves further still in wet, icy and snowy conditions, when accidents in built up areas with street lighting have fallen by 24% in the last half a decade. By contrast, accidents in unlit streets have only fallen by 12% in five years and by 16.7% in rain, ice or snow.

Faster roads suffer the worst from a lack of lighting. Accidents on well lit 40mph sections on road out of daylight hours are down by almost a quarter (24.1%), since 2008, and by 30.4% in bad weather. 40Mph limited sections of road without street lighting saw the accident rate fall by only 10.4% in the same period. Since 2009, coroners have attributed six deaths specifically to a lack of street lighting.

The National Highways and Transport Network's public satisfaction survey named the five councils considered to offer the worst street lighting, and all operate an early hours street light blackout scheme. Of the 78 councils considered, Essex was the worst, with a public satisfaction rating of only 45.1%. Next was Hertfordshire County Council, scoring 51.7%, then South Gloucestershire County Council on 56.5%. Buckinghamshire was the fourth worst with 58%, followed by Suffolk County Council in fifth, rating 58.7%. The top ten worst councils list was rounded out by Cheshire East, Shropshire, Leicestershire, Hertfordshire and Torbay.

At the other end of the scale, Blackpool scored the highest public satisfaction rating for street lighting with 75.8%, having fitted low energy LED lighting as part of a Community Lighting Partnership. A policy review by Hertfordshire County Council, revealed that travellers walking to the station for the day's first and last trains had to do so in pitch black.

The growing public dissatisfaction with the lack of street lighting in the UK could assist the political opposition in an election year and has given rise to campaigns, such as Kent's 'Right to Light' scheme and a number of other petitions.

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