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"No Evidence" Street Light Cuts Are Dangerous

2015-08-01 00:08:15

Cutting the amount of street lighting has no discernible effect on road safety or crime levels, according to new research.

Collision data over a 14-year period in 62 local authority areas where street lighting had been varied was analysed by a joint team from UCL, as well as the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Lead researcher Dr Phil Edwards said none of the altered light levels were associated with increases in casualties or crime.

"We had data on 160,000 crashes and they include car crashes, cyclists and pedestrians. Theres no evidence for an increase in any of these types of collisions with reduced street lighting at night," he said.

Study co-author Professor Shane Johnson, of UCL Security and Crime Science, said the data suggests reducing lighting to save energy did not increase crime in the neighbourhoods studied.

"This is very encouraging but it is important to note that it does not mean that this will be the case under all conditions, and so changes to lighting should be managed carefully," she said.

The findings come as councils are looking for ways to save money in the face of shrinking budgets.

The UK"s 7.4 million street lights are estimated to cost 300,000 to run each year, accounting for up to a third of council energy bills.

Motoring campaigner and AA president Edmund King disputed the conclusion that street lighting can be cut without a detrimental effect.

He said: "DfT research indicates that accidents at night have been decreasing, which is great news.

"But on streets that are lit in urban areas, theyve been decreasing by 24%, whereas on streets are unlit or partially lit, theyve only been decreasing by 10% per year.

"What that indicates to us is that where there are street lights, you get a bigger reduction in the number of accidents - thats got to be a good thing for road safety."

According to The Green Investment Bank, councils could save a total of 200,000 per year in electricity costs by switching to LED street lighting, with no reduction in lighting levels.