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How effective for road safety and traffic management is the Streetlight Switch-Off initiative?

February 12th

Once again, the Streetlight Switch-Off issue – and local authorities using it as a tool for saving money without considering road safety – has made the news here.

At Clearview Traffic,we believe that the main drivers for a change in street lighting are:

  • The current trend for energy costs is escalating and there is no apparent end in sight
  • Introduction of metered supplies means costs are increasing and transparent for all to see
  • It is now uncertain as to the quantifiable benefits that street lighting bring to the safety of road schemes
  • The latest Transport Research Laboratory study (PPR318) commissioned by the Department for Transport was unable to quantify the previous acceptance that street lighting reduced accidents by 30%, and was in fact unable to achieve a reliable and repeatable figure. This figure was used to justify the costs associated with the installation of street lighting
  • Even the Highways Agency now only use a figure of 10% in its justification for the use of lighting
  • The use of street lighting can conflict with areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (such as where our Astucia studs have been installed instead on the M40, A2 and A20)
  • Corporate social responsibilities to reduce carbon footprint costs are now high on the agenda.

Furthermore, we think that a balance must be struck between:

Benefits:

  • Urban Crime reduction
  • Improved road safety
  • Reduction in the fear of crime

Disadvantages:

  • Increasingly high energy costs
  • High carbon costs
  • Increased light pollution

Some options might include:

  • Simple switch off policy
  • Switching off rural (non urban) areas only, ie less issues with the disadvantages listed above especially for non-vehicle users (pedestrians and cyclists etc.) as they will be fewer in number than in urban areas
  • Switching off rural (non-urban) areas as per above, but with the provision of other additional safety measures
  • Timed switch off between 12am and 5am
  • Reduced burning hours by switching on later and off earlier
  • Dimming between 12am and 5am
  • LED lighting units with reduced power consumption and utilising white light which give better rendition and observation of colours, and visibility over sodium orange lighting and reduced the number allows for a wider spacing of lighting.

Additional safety measure deployed, which have seen investments for saving, give the following benefits:

  • Improved signage and lines of sight
  • Improved white lining – especially ‘rain line’ – that gives better wet weather performance
  • Better road studs, such as Astucia Intelligent road studs.

A positive example of this in action can be found with the County of Buckinghamshire where we did the following:

– Deploying a mix of rural street light switch off, with additional safety measures

Bypass

  • Switched off nearly 3,000 lights
  • Saved approximately 80,000 per year
  • No discernible increase in night-time accidents – although two sites very close to urban conurbation were switched back on after an initial 3-year trial
  • In some locations, the improved safety measures also improved daytime road safety.

To find out more about how Clearview Traffic are helping to transform road safety in the UK, please get in touch here.

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