Government response

Lighting on motorways and trunk roads in England

Clarification of an article in the Sunday Telegraph regarding lighting on motorways and trunk roads in England.

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On Sunday 29 October, the Sunday Telegraph published a story entitled ‘Row over street lights turned off at night’. This was subsequently followed up and reported by other media.

The story implied that lighting had been switched off on 3,080 miles of motorway. In fact this is the length of motorways and major ‘A’ roads on which lighting is not provided. The number of miles of motorway that are currently unlit as a result of our programme to reduce carbon emissions is under 100 miles (98.4 miles).

In addition, the media reporting did not explain the safety considerations that underpin the Highways Agency’s decisions on removal of lighting from carefully selected sites.

Our media statement explains that the programme is not about wishing to remove all lights from the motorway network. It is about carefully identifying the locations where, under the latest guidelines for motorway lighting we would not consider installing lighting today. These guidelines were revised in 2007 following the latest research into safety benefits provided by motorway lighting.

Evidence so far, from the first six sites where lighting was switched off between Midnight and 5am, indicates that switching off the lights between Midnight and 5am on these carefully selected sections of motorway hasn’t had an adverse impact on safety. Analysis also suggests no impact on traffic volumes or speed.

The Highways Agency will only turn off lights at further sites following careful site safety assessments.

The majority of the strategic road network (70%) has never had lighting installed even under the previous lighting standards, when motorway lighting was thought to have a greater safety benefits than it does today. Highways Agency Statement

A Highways Agency spokesperson said:

“This is not about wishing to remove all lights from the motorway network. It’s about carefully identifying the locations where, under the guidelines that were revised in 2007, we would not consider installing lighting.”

“So far under 100 miles (98.4 miles) are currently unlit as a result of our programme to reduce carbon emissions.

“Evidence so far indicates that switching off the lights between the hours of midnight and 5am on carefully selected sections of motorway hasn’t had an adverse impact on safety. Analysis also suggests that this does not appear to have had an impact on traffic volumes and speed.

Ends

Our most recent news release (including a list of sites) is available on the Highways Agency website.

Issued by the Highways Agency press office. For media enquiries please call 0844 693 1448.

Published 29 October 2012