Big rise in deaths and injuries on streets left dark, study shows

Casualties on roads where streetlights have been switched off at night have increased by as much as 20 per cent, according to a new study.

Research by The Times shows that 324 more people were killed or seriously injured in crashes at night on roads where streetlights had been switched off in 2011-12, compared to 2009-10.

In the same time period, deaths rose by 39 per cent to 25 and serious injuries rose by 27 per cent to 225, according to the study.

Dave Franks, service development manager at Westminster City Council, said: ‘Those numbers are very concerning. Obviously we’d want to know more details – just because the lighting was switched off doesn’t mean the lighting was the reason for the accident, or a contributing factor. But it is a worrying figure and as a lighting engineer, I would be concerned.’

Franks added: ‘When a switch-off happens, even if the authorities do ensure that all the road lining and signage is up to the standards, the same authorities may not have the budget to actually maintain that in the future, and if the signage hasn’t been kept up to standard, that could be the cause of an accident. It’s looking at the whole story.’

The Times analysed 800,000 pieces of data collected by police to arrive at the results. But the quality of the research was called into question by the Local Government Association, which represents councils in England and Wales. A spokesperson for the LGA told The Times: 'If councils were presented with evidence it [turning off streetlights] was causing a public safety risk they would act. However, this data fails to provide that evidence and it is completely misleading to suggest it tells us anything about the cause of accidents.'

Photo: Scott Akerman

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