Councils are causing more road deaths by turning off street lights to save money, say campaigners
Councils in the UK are saving millions of pounds by turning off street lights but it is causing more road deaths, say campaigners.
The Times reported that councils spent £15 million less in the past two years even though the wholesale cost of electricity has increased by more than 50%.
Councils have dimmed street lights or turned them off in an effort to save money and cut carbon emissions.
But campaigners say the practice has led to more deaths on the road and leaves elderly people afraid to go out of their homes.
Luke Bosdet, of the AA, told The Times: “The switching off of street lights was always going to have deadly consequences, particularly on roads of 40mph or faster.
“Inquests have confirmed 11 road accident fatalities as a result of street lights being switched off.
“The names of the dead stand testament to the recklessness of councils.
“Not a single driver was prosecuted because, time after time, police investigators testified that they had little or no chance to avoid the collision.”
Figures from local authorities reveal that street light spending in London boroughs has fallen by 12% in the past two years.
In the past five years, spending by metropolitan councils outside London has dropped by 8%.
Energy regulator Ofgem says wholesale electricity prices have increased by 64% in the past five years.
Last year, a series of freedom of information requests by the Liberal Democrats found that 85% of councils were switching off or dimming their street lights.
Martin Tett, the leader of Buckinghamshire county council and transport spokesman for the Local Government Association, told The Times: “Switching off or reducing street lighting won’t happen everywhere, but some councils may decide it can save taxpayers money and improve the environment in a safe way.
“With local government facing a funding gap of £7.8 billion by 2025, reducing or dimming street lights can also free up vital cash to protect under pressure services such as child protection, adult social care, collecting bins and filling potholes.
“Authoritative independent academic research has found no link between reduced street lighting and traffic accidents.”