New report from Highways England shows an 88.2% increase in the number accidents


Accidents on motorways in areas where the lights are not working at night, either because they’re broken or switched off, have almost doubled over the past nine years.

A new report from Highways England shows an 88.2% increase in the number of accidents on UK motorways and A roads where there’s no lighting during the night.

However, whilst the percentage jump is big, the numbers involved aren’t quite as alarming, as the annual increase in casualties it represents show numbers have jumped from 93 in 2010 to 175 in 2017.

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Areas on some of the UK’s major A roads and motorways such as the M54 have no street lighting from midnight to 5am – could this be the reason for the increase in accidents? © Copyright Peter Whatley and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The numbers also contrast with an overall drop of one quarter in accidents and subsequent casualties since the end of the last decade.

It’s also worth comparing these figures with the ‘lit during darkness’ road casualty numbers, as in fact they are a lot higher and as such indicate that the UK has more lit roads than unlit roads. On lit roads, there were 1,977 casualties in 2017 compared to 2,423 in 2010 – almost 500 less and in 2013, there was an overall low of 1,931 casualties.

Does the 88% increase come from lights being switched off at night?

According to some motoring groups, including the AA, who warned of the dangers of turning road lights off, there’s a correlation between the two. The AA warned back in 2010 that switching off lights at night to save energy would result in more accidents.

In an effort to save money and reduce C02 emissions, a scheme was introduced which meant street lights were switched off between the hours of midnight and 5am on a number of roads including areas of the M2, M6, M54 and the M5.

A full investigation into the effects of switching lights off in correlation with road accident rates is still being pursued by the AA, who also call for research surrounding the real-time effects on drivers.


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