The number of accidents on sections of motorway and major A road that used to be lit but are now unlit has increased sharply over seven years, according to official accident statistics.
Research from Highways England – the government-owned company responsible for the UK’s 4,300-mile long motorway and strategic A road network – shows there was an 88.2 per cent increase in the number of casualties on “lighting unlit” sections of road – those with lights that were either switched off to reduce energy use, or weren’t illuminated due to malfunctions.
While there were only 175 casualties on “lighting unlit” sections of the strategic road network (SRN) in 2017, this was up from 93 in 2010. Furthermore, while casualties on lighting unlit sections of road increased over the time analysed by Highways England, casualties on the 1,433 miles of Highways England managed roads that were lit during darkness fell by 18.4 per cent, while the overall number of casualties on the SRN fell by 12.4 per cent, to 14,225, over the same period.
Edmund King, president of the AA, told The Times there should be a “full investigation into the real consequences of turning the lights off.”
Highways England has switched off lighting between the hours of midnight and 5am on a number of sections of road to reduce energy use and associated carbon emissions. Parts of the M2, M5 and M6, as well as the M54, have been subject to their lights being switched off.
Highways England’s head of road safety, Richard Leonard, said safety was the company’s “top priority”, adding: “we light what needs to be lit, and we know where those locations are. We have a greater understanding of where night-time collisions occur and the impact road lighting would have. This means we can target lighting where it is needed, rather than putting lights everywhere.”
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