It is a dark time for drivers across the South East.
New research reveals over a third (35 per cent) of the region’s 728,047 street lights are switched off or dimmed at night. Almost a quarter are currently dimmed during the darker hours while a further 85,000 are turned off.
The data comes from comparison website Confused.com as a result of a Freedom of Information request.
With over half (51 per cent) of UK motorists who drive on unlit roads saying they feel unsafe on streets where the lights are switched off, accoridng to a survey, some may be alarmed to hear that at least 137 councils across the UK currently have dimming or switch-off systems in place.
The data also shows that Britain’s roads are set to be plunged even further into darkness, with more than half of the 180 UK councils planning future dimming or switch off regimes.
Further research by Confused.com highlights that all of this dimming is not going unnoticed by drivers. Of those who drive on dimmed or unlit streets, more than eight in 10 think the visibility of the road is compromised when the lights are switched off.
And the safety of driving on darkened streets is actually a concern for many motorists. Almost two fifths (38 per cent) think unlit or dimmed streets make driving more dangerous.
Some fear they will hit something due to poorer visibility, with some even saying they felt vulnerable when driving on darkened roads in case they break down. In fact, more than a third will go as far as to avoid driving in areas that are in complete darkness or dimly lit.
They have even added four miles to their average journey by taking an alternative route to avoid driving in the dark.
Yet drivers appear to have more than their own safety to worry about. More than a third (34 per cent) of drivers admitted that they have struggled to see pedestrians when street lights have been off, while more than one in 10 found it hard to see them in dimmed conditions.
In fact, some drivers admitted to having near misses with pedestrians due to a lack of street lighting or dimmed lighting, while some say they even know of pedestrian fatalities.
Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com, says: “While there are a number of cost and carbon saving reasons for councils dimming street lights, the effect is clearly being felt by drivers across the South East.
“With plans for further dimming and switch-off regimes across the region, we would urge motorists to be extra vigilant when driving on lowly lit streets by slowing their speed and keeping an eye out for pedestrians.
“Pedestrians should also make an effort to wear bright clothing when walking on roads at night, particularly if heading down roads with no street lighting.”
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