Over half of motorists in the East Midlands have noticed that roads are darker than they were a year ago, as cash-strapped councils continue to switch off street lights in their thousands, a survey has revealed.
Around 750,000 lights across the UK have either been turned off or dimmed in the past year in response to budget cuts and climate change targets.
The research by carmaker Suzuki released today – the darkest day of the year – reveals that 55 per cent of drivers in the region feel that UK roads are getting darker.
And Suzuki are urging drivers to stay vigilant after rising concerns that the widespread street lamp switch-off could result in increased risks on roads during the winter months.
The survey of 2,000 British motorists also found that nearly a fifth (16 per cent) had suffered damage to their cars due to potholes.
Despite the poor weather and darker roads, many drivers admit driving with broken brake and head lights: one in 25 (4 per cent) say they are currently driving with broken lights.
Misaligned headlights can also cause problems on dark roads as over two thirds of drivers in the region (68 per cent) say that they are regularly dazzled by other motorists’ misaligned lights.
Despite the increased risk of driving with faults on their vehicles, over a third of the drivers surveyed in the region (36 per cent) who admitted having problems on their cars, said they won’t be getting them fixed this winter.
Katie Shepherd of Brake, the road safety charity, said: “As the dark evenings draw in it is even more important that drivers keep a look out for vulnerable pedestrians and cyclists, and slow down to 20mph in communities. This means you have a far better chance of stopping in time if you need to – greatly reducing your chances of knocking someone down or being involved in a crash. Checking that your vehicle is properly equipped for winter, with working lights and tyres in good condition, is also crucial for ensuring your safety and protecting other people.”
Alun Parry of Suzuki said: “Night driving with less street lighting is going to be more difficult than ever. Poor lighting or none at all can make it very difficult for motorists to see hazards or objects clearly at night, so extra vigilance will be needed.”
“It’s important to be 100 per cent sure that your car lights are working properly. At this time of year, it’s particularly easy for drivers to get caught out – not realising that they have a defective bulb or that wipers are not clearing the screen correctly.”
Nearly half (40 per cent) of the UK’s fatal and serious injuries happen between 7pm and 8am, despite less traffic on the roads, meaning that drivers need to be more vigilant and take less risks on dark winter roads.
Suzuki and Brake have teamed up with former model and racing driver Jodie Kidd to promote a Survive the Winter campaign, to reinforce the message that drivers - and their cars - should be prepared for winter.
To find out more about their Survive the Winter campaign visit www.suzuki.co.uk/cars or follow on Twitter @SuzukiCarsUK #survivethewinter. Drivers can find Brake’s advice on vehicle maintenance and bad weather at www.brake.org.uk.