Most drivers are against road light switch off says Confused.com
A new poll from confused.com has revealed that the midnight switch off of the lights on the roads of the UK, which the government implemented in 2010, pose safety risks to motorists. As we approach the shortest day of the year, the insurance experts at confused.com reveal that 67% of UK drivers oppose the switch off strongly, and 47% feel less confident of driving at night.
Areas currently affected by the midnight switch off include stretches of the M1,2,4,5,6,27 and 54 motorways. These stretches of unlit road add up to 47.4miles of complete darkness between midnight and 5am. According to confused.com, the 3 biggest fears for night drivers are inadequately lit road signs; 60%, not being able to see other road users; 31% and getting tired at the wheel; 20%.
According to research from the Journal of Sleep Research, these concerns are justified. Driving in the dark for just three hours can make drivers drive as badly as when drunk, with performance standards equating to the driver having 0.08% alcohol content in his blood – the national limit. By four and a half hours ‘dark driving’, these levels rise to 0.10%*** – shocking when one in seven people don’t take any breaks during a four-hour journey****.
Although a high proportion of motorists are less confident driving in the dark, the younger generations find a lack of road lighting actually encourages risk-taking, with 27% of drivers under 24 driving faster in the dark, and the same percentage again feeling “more relaxed” to the rules of the road.
Julie Townsend, Campaigns Director of Brake says: “Street lights are an important safety feature on our roads, so it’s not surprising so many drivers are worried about them being switched off. There may be fewer vehicles about at night, but when driving in the dark it’s harder to spot other road users and potential hazards, and you’re more likely to encounter dangers like people drink driving. If we see more crashes as a result of lights going off, it means more families suffering needless deaths and injuries, and it’s a false economy, because these crashes are a huge drain on health and emergency services.”
In a campaign to raise awareness of the risks posed to night drivers, Confused.com is petitioning for the Highways Agency to reconsider its decision to turn off the lights on some of the UK’s motorways and streets. This petition will be presented on 31st January 2012.
Gareth Kloet, Head of Car Insurance at Confused.com says: “Our research shows that drivers find driving in the dark a frightening experience and a reduction in motorway and street lighting exaggerates this. The safety of road users should still remain top priority – the government could even consider alternative measures such as energy saving light bulbs to help keep us safe on the roads this winter.”