Switch-offs under scrutiny following deaths on unlit roads

With streetlight switch-offs cited as factors in two fatal road accidents, local authorities are being asked to contribute data to a major study into the effect of reduced streetlighting on car crashes and crime.

A coroner in Warwickshire ruled that the switching off of streetlights had contributed to the death of a teenager who was run over in Leamington last year.

Eighteen-year-old Archie Wellbelove was hit by a taxi on the A452 near Leamington, just days after selected streetlights were turned off in a bid to save half a million pounds. A review of the scheme, originally scheduled for July, has now been brought forward.

Lighting, or the lack of it, was also cited as a factor this week by a driver caught up in a crash on the M65 in which one man died. Lancashire residents are now petitioning for the lights to be switched on between midnight and 5am.

A recent survey commissioned by shadow communities and local government secretary Hilary Benn found that two thirds of councils are dimming streetlights or switching them off.

Speaking at LuxLive earlier this month, Dr Phil Edwards of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine called on local councils to get involved in the ILP-supported Lanterns (Local Authority Collaborators’ National Evaluation of Reduced Nighttime Streetlight) project.

The project aims to collect information from every local authority in England and Wales, and combine it with police data on crime and traffic accidents. It will look at the level of crime and crashes before and after streetlighting was reduced, while also looking at data for roads where the lighting was not changed.

So far, 55 of 174 local authorities in England and Wales have provided data to the study.

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