England’s motorway network will be getting a bit lighter, at least between midnight and 5am. It follows a change of policy by Highways England…
Highways England has announced that it’ll be ending its policy of switching off some motorway lighting between midnight and 5am. This has been in place since 2009 and has affected over 100 miles of the road network. The organisation stated that it officially ended the policy in 2018; citing the installation of more efficient and economical LED lights, no doubt negating any savings made by the switch-off. Whilst it didn’t cite safety concerns, a recent report suggests the lack of lighting has caused casualties to surge by 88%. For perspective, that’s a rise from 93 to 175 casualties between 2009 and 2017.
Richard Leonard, head of road safety, stressed that safety was integral to Highways England’s plans. He said, “On our roads 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”. He added, “we are absolutely committed to further reducing deaths and injuries on England’s motorways and major A roads. This will require a concerted effort and investment over the long term”.
But Are Lit Areas Actually More Dangerous?
Lighting and driving goes hand in hand. At least, you’d think. But data from Highways England itself suggests the opposite may be true; you’re more likely to have an accident in a lit area. However, this could be because the areas that are illuminated are simply more dangerous in of themselves. When the company reviews lighting requirements, it carries out a variety of safety assessments. In essence, then, the presence of lights is a response to potential danger rather than a cause of it.
Whilst few of us are regularly driving between midnight and 5am, the policy should be welcomed. Initially a cost-saving measure, Highways England has clearly found a cheaper way of keeping the motorway network well-lit. This should make driving easier and safer for millions of drivers from all across the country. No more squinting and faffing with headlights!
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