Lights out for drivers as clocks go back

Drivers are left in the dark as one in three (36%) of the UK’s six million street lights are switched off or dimmed at night 

Posted on 27 Oct 2017

FOI data shows almost 1.5 million street lights are dimmed(1) at night while more than 600,000 are switched off completely(1).
Street lighting map reveals brightest and darkest areas across the UK.
One in eight (13%) drivers have had an accident or near miss in an area where street lights have been switched off.
Over a third (34%) of motorists say rural roads are worst affected, with a further two in five (44%) calling for more street lights to be lit on rural streets. launches driving in the dark safety guide, as more than a third (35%) of drivers dread the clocks going back this weekend (Sunday 29th October).

This Sunday, drivers will be plunged into the darkness earlier as the clocks go back an hour. And evenings are only going to get darker, as research by reveals more than 2 million street lights are dimmed or switched off at night(1)

The data obtained by the driver savings site found that a gloomy 1.5 million (25%)(1) lights are dimmed during the darker hours, while a further 600,000 (11%)(1) are turned off completely, accounting for more than a third (36%) of the six million street lights across the UK. 

The research found that at least 137 councils across the UK have dimming or switch-off systems in place, and’s street lighting map reveals some regions are darker than others. And with one in eight (13%) drivers having had an accident on roads where the street lights were off, it’s no wonder over a third (35%) are dreading the darker nights being brought forward by the clocks going back this weekend.

Darkened streets seems to be an issue across the UK, but certain areas are more daunting to drive through in the dark than others. In fact, more than a third (34%) think rural roads are most affected by switched-off or dimmed street lights, with more than two fifths (44%) of drivers calling for more street lights to be lit along these roads. As it stands, more than a quarter (27%) think rural roads are too dangerous to drive on in the dark, possibly due to the many obstacles they might face along their route – such as flocks of sheep, horse riders, or other wildlife. This could explain why more than one in five (21%) drivers actually avoid driving along rural roads at night because they can’t see well enough.

But it’s not just unlit rural roads which put drivers off. In fact, more than a quarter (27%) of motorists say they avoid driving in areas that are in complete darkness. This could be attributed to almost half of drivers (49%) saying they feel or would feel unsafe driving on streets where the lights are switched off. And a further four in five (79%) say their visibility of the road is compromised when street lights are switched off. So to help those who feel nervous about night-time driving, has launched a driving in the dark safety guide which provides tops tips for safer driving during the darker hours. 

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at, says: “Our street lighting map really puts into perspective the darkness faced by drivers while driving at night. And with the clocks going back this Sunday, evenings are only going to get darker – especially in rural areas.

It is clear that many drivers dread driving at night time, and it is no wonder given how little light is available in some areas. For those who are headed out for a night-time drive, there are things you can do make your trip safer, such as dimming dashboard lights to reduce reflections. We also recommend allowing more time for journeys, so you aren’t driving under pressure. For more advice, visit our guide to safer night driving.”


Notes to editors
Unless otherwise stated, all figures taken from omnibus research carried out by One Poll on behalf of This was an online poll of 2,000 UK adults who drive (nationally representative sample). The research was conducted between 20th October and 23rd October 2017.

1. In January 2017, issued a Freedom of Information request to 436 borough, district and city councils. Of these, 180 responded. The request asked the following: 
a. How many street lights is your council currently responsible for?
b. Does your council currently switch-off street lights for the whole time during the night i.e. from last light to first light? If so, how many lights are switched off?
c. Does your council currently switch-off street lights for a period of time during the night i.e. for a set number of hours each night? If so, how many lights are switched off?
d. Does your council currently dim street lights for during the night? If so, how many lights are dimmed?
e. Is your council planning to switch off or dim street lights in the future?

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