An initiative to save energy by switching off lighting on motorways has seen the number of people killed or seriously injured on those roads almost double.
Figures from Highways England show an 88 per cent increase in the number of casualties on “lighting unlit” sections of motorway. Those are sections where lighting was either deliberately turned off to cut energy use or weren’t lit due to malfunction.
Starting in 2010, Highways England turned off lights on sections of the M2, M5, M6, M54 and M65 between midnight and 5pm to reduce carbon emissions.
The data from the government agency shows that there were 175 casualties on those lighting unlit roads in 2017, up from 93 in 2010.
Against the trend
The rise comes at the same time as casualties across the whole of England’s 4,300-mile strategic road network fell. Over the same period, the total number of casualties dropped by 12.4 per cent, to 14,255, with deaths and injuries on the 1,433 miles of road lit during darkness fell 18.4 per cent.
Edmund King, president of the AA, told the Times there should be a full investigation into the real consequences of the turn-off policy.
However, Highways England’s head of road safety, Richard Leonard, said that safety was the agency’s “top priority”.
He said: “We light what needs to be lit, and we know where those locations are.
“We have a greater understanding of where night-time collisions occur and the impact road lighting would have.
“This means we can target lighting where it is needed, rather than putting lights everywhere.”