Stop traffic crashes: switch on the lights
(NC&T/NU) Street lighting may be considered an obvious means of preventing road traffic crashes, but the scientific evidence for this has been uncertain and many studies are decades out of date. Some even suggest that drivers 'feel' safer on better lit roads and may speed up as a result. But a systematic review by Cochrane researchers now shows that street lighting does indeed reduce crashes and injuries on the roads.
The World Health Organization estimates that 1 million people die each year on the world's roads and up to an additional 50 million are injured, causing an estimated global bill of $578 billion.
"Road traffic crashes are not just the unfortunate culmination of chance, but are events that can be analysed so that the risk factors are identified and then addressed. Darkness is a risk factor - street lighting is therefore a valuable tool," says lead researcher, Fiona Beyer, of Newcastle University.
The researchers reached their conclusions by pooling data from 14 studies on the effects of street lighting on road safety. They found that street lighting reduced total crashes by between 32% and 55%, and fatal injury crashes by 77%.
Without intervention, the number of deaths due to road traffic crashes is expected to reach 2.3 million by 2020. It is thought that 9 out of 10 deaths will occur in low and middle income countries. But Beyer says the results may also have implications for policy makers who plan to reduce public street lighting under the premise of cutting carbon emissions and costs.
|Street lighting provides a simple, low cost means of stemming the global epidemic of road traffic death and injury. (Photo: Newcastle U.)|
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