Drivers left in the dark as North East councils switch off thousands of street lights

More than half of drivers say they don't feel safe in areas where street lights are dimmed or switched off.
More than half of drivers say they don't feel safe in areas where street lights are dimmed or switched off.
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A third of street lights in the North East are being dimmed or switched off at night as councils look to save cash.

And more than half of motorists who drive on unlit roads say they feel unsafe where the lights are switched off, says new research.

A map showing which parts of the UK have the darkest streets.

A map showing which parts of the UK have the darkest streets.

The data, obtained by Confused.com under the Freedom Of Information Act, shows nearly 31,000 street lights in the region are turned off at night, while another 100,000 are dimmed.

And it's set to get worse, as more than half of councils in the North East are planning further switch-off or dimming regimes.

Of the region's 474,027 street lights, 29% are switched off or dimmed at night.

It's not going unnoticed by drivers; 84% think road visibility is compromised when street lights are switched off, and 77% say it's affected by dimmed conditions.

A graph showing what percentage of street lights are switched off or dimmed.

A graph showing what percentage of street lights are switched off or dimmed.

Many drivers fear they will hit something due to poorer visibility, and others saying they feel vulnerable when driving on darkened roads in case they break down.

Some will go as far as avoiding driving in areas that are in darkness or dimly lit. They will add miles to their journey by taking an alternative route to avoid driving in the dark.

Parking is also a concern, as 64% don't feel safe parking on roads with no street lighting, while 44% believe their car is more at risk of being broken into where lights are dimmed or off.

A third of drivers admit they have struggled to see pedestrians when street lights have been off, while 14% found it hard to see them in dimmed conditions.

However, some drivers appear to recognise some of the benefits of turning off and dimming street lights.

21% believe turning off or dimming lights is important for cutting carbon emissions and a further 22% think it is important for reducing light pollution.

But when asked why they think councils have started switching off street lights, 87% said they thought it was to save money.

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com, said: “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 North 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.

"Drivers who have concerns about the safety of parking on shadowy roads can review the security features of car parks up and down the country and book overnight parking using Confused.com’s parking tool. For tips on driving in the dark, visit our guide."