News, Transport

Death toll is mounting on unlit roads, AA tells MPs

Cash-strapped councils are turning off street lights to save money, prompting a rise in fatalities on unlit roads.

Eleven people have been killed on unlit roads over the last five years the AA has told MPs, as councils opt to switch off street lights to save money.

The organisation is lobbying for legislation to prevent council ordered streetlight blackouts, which are plunging Britian’s roads into darkness.

Recent research has found that street lights are being dimmed or switched off entirely in three quarters of council areas, as local authorities struggle to deal with budget cuts. 106 out of 141 councils that provided data admitted that they switched off or dimmed lights at night.

“We feel that had there been 11 deaths on the railways or in healthcare with a clear and significant contributory factor, there would have been an investigation to look at how they happened and how further fatalities could be prevented,” Edmund King, the AA’s president commented.

However, the findings produced by the AA sit in direct opposition to a study released last year by the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. The publication found no evidence of a link between reduced street lighting and increased traffic accidents after analysing data from 62 authorities across England and Wales. The study also failed to find a connection between a rise in crime and the absence of street lighting, figures the AA found to be ‘extremely surprising’.

The motoring organisation submitted a dossier to the Commons transport select committee detailing 11 recent examples of fatalities in which coroners cited poor lighting as a contributory factor in the person’s death.

The AA dossier includes details of the death of a woman crossing a road in Wiltshire as well as details of the deaths of two friends who died on the M65 in Lancashire.