Decisions of when and where street lights are switched off must be made with road safety as the top priority and with full consultation of local residents.
That’s the verdict of IAM RoadSmart, on the back of a survey in which the majority of respondents said that switching off street lights has had a negative impact on personal safety and road safety.
Lack of visibility (60%), colliding with a pedestrian (45%) and being at risk if your vehicle breaks down (42%) were ranked as the biggest concerns about getting behind the wheel in the dark.
Meanwhile, 57% of those surveyed agreed that unlit streetlights made their neighbourhood feel less safe.
IAM RoadSmart says motorists have ‘legitimate concerns’ about driving in the dark.
Neil Greig, director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart, said: “While IAM RoadSmart supports efforts to decrease carbon emissions and acknowledges the financial pressures faced by local authorities, such concerns expressed by drivers should serve as a reminder to decision makers that motorists possess legitimate concerns about driving in the dark.
“Therefore, any decision of when and where lights are switched off must be made with road safety as the top priority and with full consultation of local residents.”
According to the survey, nearly a quarter (23%) of respondents agreed that the prospect of walking on an unlit road would make them more likely to drive home over the drink driving limit rather than walking.
Neil Greig added: “With over 35 million drivers on the roads, this statistic means that there could be over eight million motorists tempted to get behind the wheel after a drink.
“While this is totally unacceptable, this also goes to show the fears some drivers have about walking in unlit areas.”