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Half of drivers feel less safe on darker roads

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Many drivers say they have safety concerns, both for themselves and other road users, on streets where the lights are switched off.

Road at night

Over a third of the country’s six million street-lights are switched off or dimmed at night.

That’s according to data obtained by Confused.com via a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

1.5 million street-lights are currently dimmed during the darker hours, while a further 600,000 are turned off completely.

At least 137 councils currently have dimming or switch-off systems in place, the FOI data showed, while many more are planning to introduce their own switch-off programmes.

Visibility of the road compromised

Meanwhile, separate research shows over half of drivers on unlit roads say they feel less safe on streets where the lights are switched off.

Of those who drive on dimmed or unlit streets, more than eight in 10 think the visibility of the road is compromised when the lights are switched off. 

Almost two-fifths think unlit or dimmed streets make driving more dangerous.

More than a third of drivers admitted that they have struggled to see pedestrians when street lights are off. And more than one in 10 found it hard to see them in dimmed conditions. 

Drivers don’t feel safe parking on darker roads

Almost four in 10 motorists avoid driving in areas that are in complete darkness or dimly lit. This is as a result of safety concerns, both for other road users and themselves.

Meanwhile, parking is also a concern among those who drive on unlit or dimmed streets.

Two in three motorists don’t feel safe parking their cars on roads with no street lighting. 

And almost two-fifths of believe their car is more at risk of being broken into if the lights are dimmed or switched off.

Benefits of turning off street lights

In total, over two-fifths of drivers think more street lights should be switched on to full capacity at night.

However, some drivers appear to recognise some of the benefits of turning off and dimming street lights.

Over one in five believe turning off or dimming street lights is important for cutting carbon emissions. A further fifth think it’s important for reducing light pollution.

When asked why they think councils have started switching off street lights, drivers mentioned a number of reasons:

- Almost nine in 10 said they thought it was to save money
- Over a quarter believe councils want to cut down on carbon emissions
- Under a fifth cited light pollution concerns.

‘We would urge motorists to be extra vigilant’

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com, says: “While there are a number of cost and carbon saving reasons for councils dimming street lights, the effect is clearly being felt by drivers nationwide.

“With plans for further dimming and switch-off regimes across the country, we would urge motorists to be extra vigilant when driving on lowly lit streets by slowing their speed and keeping an eye out for pedestrians.

“Pedestrians should also make an effort to wear bright clothing when walking on roads at night, particularly if heading down roads with no street lighting.

“Drivers who have concerns about the safety of parking on shadowy roads can review the security features of car parks up and down the country and book overnight parking using Confused.com’s parking tool.” 

For tips on driving in the dark, visit our guide.

Street lighting infographic
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