AA warns over unlit road accidents
The AA has highlighted the dangers facing drivers travelling on unlit roads.
Some councils turn out street lights in the early hours of the morning as an economy measure.
The AA said Government figures showed that over the past five years, improved road safety has seen accidents in hours of darkness on built-up roads where there is street lighting fall 18.6% overall, and 24% in the wet, snow and ice.
But where street lights were off or not present, the reduction was 12% overall and 16.7% in bad weather.
The AA added that the situation was worse on faster roads. Since 2008, night-time accidents on street-lit 40mph sections have dropped 24.1% overall and 30.4% in wet, snow or icy conditions, but are down only 10.4% on both counts where street lights were off or not present.
The AA said the five worst councils for street lighting in this year's National Highways and Transport Network public satisfaction survey all operate a blackout during the early hours of the morning.
It said Essex County Council was bottom of a league of 78 councils with a score of 45.1%. Hertfordshire County Council was second with 51.7%, followed by South Gloucestershire with 56.5%, Buckinghamshire County Council with 58%, and Suffolk County Council with 58.7%.
Blackpool, with its fitting of energy-saving LED street lights through a Community Lighting Partnership, topped the street-light satisfaction league with a score of 75.8%.
AA president Edmund King said: "New official road safety statistics show that accident rates on blacked-out town and city roads are not getting better. In fact, on 40mph roads, they are getting much worse - particularly in bad weather.
"This is the type of road where most of the fatalities, for which coroners blamed street-light switch-offs as a contributory factor, happened."
He went on: "We would ask that, as a priority, the lights go back on along 40mph or faster roads in built-up areas.
"Crash investigators in inquests have consistently stated that drivers who keep to the speed limit on those roads have little or no chance of missing pedestrians that suddenly appear out of the dark."
A Department for Transport spokesman said: "Public safety is our first priority. The department provides advice to local authorities on factors they need to consider in managing street lighting, but they are best placed to decide exactly where it is needed."