Fears accident rates could rise as motorway lights are switched off at midnight to cut pollution

By James Tozer
18th July 2010

Motorway lights are being switched off at midnight across the country in a move critics warn could compromise safety.

Seven stretches are now plunged into darkness until 5am every night in a bid to cut carbon emissions and reduce light pollution.

The Highways Agency, which manages Englandís motorway network, says it has picked areas with low levels of overnight traffic and good safety records.

However they admit there could be a slight increase in accident rates as a result, and there are fears that more roads will see black-outs as councils across the country try to save money.

The latest length of carriageway where the lights are being turned off is an eight-mile stretch of the M6 in Lancashire.

From this Wednesday, street lights between junction 27 at Standish, near Wigan, and junction 29 at Lostock Hall will go dark at midnight, switching on again at 5am.

Similar nightly switch-offs already take place at six other locations including the M4 near Bristol and the M5 near Exeter, with others likely to follow.

The Highways Agency says the move reduces carbon emissions as well as reducing the glare for people living near motorways.