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Cost-cutting councils plan to switch off street lights

Switching off street lights to save money could lead to more crashes and more crime, the AA said today.

A number of councils are turning some lights off completely and turning others off at selected times as an economy measure.

The Highways Agency has also switched off some lights on English motorways.

AA president Edmund King said: "There is a fear that in some areas these switch-offs could lead to more crashes and crime.

"Lighting can improve safety for drivers, riders, and pedestrians and deter street crime. The public are in favour of street lighting as a way of improving road safety. Cyclists and pedestrians are more at risk on unlit streets."

Mr King went on: "Local authorities should consider more environmentally-friendly lighting, that can save them £46 a light, rather than putting us all in the dark. In terms of reducing CO2, AA research shows that local authorities will have more effect improving traffic flow than turning off the lights."

An AA study shows that driving outside daylight hours is more dangerous. Only a quarter of all travel by car drivers is between the hours of 7pm and 8am, yet this period accounts for 40% of fatal and serious injuries.

Also worried about the lighting is House of Commons transport committee chairman Louise Ellman.

She told the BBC: "I am extremely concerned that financial pressures are leading to steps which can jeopardise people's lives and increase the number of injuries.

"We've made great progress in recent years in reducing the number of deaths and injuries on our roads. It would be tragic if by switching the lights off, that progress was to be put back many years."

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