E&E | Turning off Exeter’s street lights risks lives, The AA warn

10 April 2014

Turning off Exeter’s street lights risks lives, The AA warn

The AA have warned Devon County Council that turning Exeter’s street lights off is putting lives at risk.

Council across the country are switching off the lights to save money but the AA said its research showed that night-time accidents in bad weather on well-lit 30mph urban roads had been slashed by 15.6per cent over the past five years.

By contrast, where street lights have been switched off or are not present, the fall was just 2per cent.

They added that official statistics revealed that, on darkened 40mph built-up roads, accidents in the wet, snow or ice were down 21.8per cent where there was lighting, but by only a quarter of that – 5.2per cent – where there was not.

The AA said that between 2007 to 2012, a 19.6per cent reduction in road accidents along town and city roads where street lights were on shrank to 8.8 per cent where drivers, cyclists, bikers and pedestrians travelled in darkness.

Exeter’s street light switch off started earlier this month and elsewhere in Devon, ambulances have been delayed because they can’t find their way around blacked out streets.

Yolonda Henson, Polsloe city councillor and leader of Exeter Conservatives, says she is shattered by the findings of the AA.

Cllr Henson, who was always against switching off street lights at night , said: “What they are saying here is that accidents have to happen before they will switch the lights back on.

“We should be hanging our heads in shame about this.

“Elsewhere they switch off every other light and I understand that that works very well.”

An AA/Populus survey of more than 24,000 AA members conducted in February and March found 78per cent agreed that local residents should be consulted before any midnight to 5am light switching-off decisions were taken.

Fewer than half (47per cent) were happy to see a middle-of-the-night switch-off, with fewer than a third (30per cent) of Londoners keen on the idea.

AA president Edmund King said: ‘Worse accident  on roads with street lights turned off or not present is an insidious threat that has crept in literally under the cover of darkness.

‘Many local authorities based their risk assessment on police accident profiles for the affected roads. This had two huge drawbacks.

‘Firstly and fundamentally, roads that are safe when lit can become unsafe with the lights switched off, but that is only shown when drivers, cyclists, bikers and pedestrians start to get hurt and killed.

‘Secondly, with an extra casualty here and there, it is difficult to spot a creeping overall trend that might suggest something is dangerously wrong with a blackout.’

My quick thoughts:

As a local Cllr in one of the first wards to have coverted PNSL in the gradual roll-out of the policy by Devon County Council I would be very interested in seeing the whole report/statistics that are being used in the press (I did ask The AA, but received no reply

I managed to force DCC of change their plans so that all 30 mph roads within Cowick remain lit during PNSL ours – increasing from 1 to 3.

So the majority of my ward is contained within 2x 20 mph zones – do you have any data, figures and statistics on how PNSL affects safety in these areas.

One question – could it be that impact and risk assessments have shown that the roads that are showing high numbers of RTC are remaining lit, whilst the  majority of roads converted to PNSL previously had low numbers of road traffic collisions and incidents?

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