According to research carried out by the Times, road casualties in areas where street lights have been turned off have risen by 20% in four years. It found that 324 more people were killed or seriously injured in crashes at night on roads where street lights were unlit in 2011-12 than in 2009-10. Deaths rose by 39% to 25 and serious injuries rose by 27% to 225, analysis of 800,000 pieces of data collected by police showed. The Local Government Association said: “If councils were presented with evidence it ‘turning off street lights’ 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.”
I have always been of the view, from the perspective of being an environmentalist, that our roads are lit to an unsustainable lux level. Street lighting is obviously important for road safety and to help combat crime but does it really have to be to such high lux levels which cost us all a fortune to pay for via our taxes?
If you look at any road improvements done in recent years, where it involves new street lighting, the result can be all but like daylight! Light pollution and wasted energy are the result. LED street lights are the way forward from an environmental and power saving point of view.
I recall, not so long ago, having to get involved in a dispute between a Sefton based social landlord and its neighbours. The social landlord had upgraded a sheltered housing facility to a high standard but in doing so had put in new outside lights that were far too bright and which kept some of its neighbours awake at night! In the end it was all resolved but I never really understood why such high lux levels had been desired in the first place.
Council’s have been turning street lights off to save money not because they are worried about light pollution or environmental sustainability but, when sensibly done, our environment can also benefit from lower lux levels. This can be a win, win situation in my view.
With thanks to the LGiU