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Let There Be Light

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Let There Be Light

Geoff Maxted
November 2, 2013

Last weekend we put the clocks back. Don’t even get me started on this antiquated practice but we did it anyway. There is apparently a retired couple who no longer do this and live permanently on British Summer Time. They live 'in the future' an hour ahead of everybody else and insist they save a third on their gas and electricity bills. Presumably they are either perpetually early or late, depending, for appointments and the like but each to his or her own. They are from Somerset. The rest of us dutifully toe the line and begin to get used to the difference.

Now, you know local councillors? These are the people who we voluntarily elect to run our local services and who then become power-crazed zealots running roughshod over our lives and services. Once again, just as the nights get darker, earlier, they begin to turn off road and street lighting. This is done under the guise of ‘reducing emissions’ which, being good citizens, we are not supposed to argue with lest we be named and shamed as filthy polluters.

Three quarters of councils have, or are planning, to do this. Councils claim their actions haven’t led to an increase in accidents or crime. They insist that lights have only been turned off after consultations with safety authorities and local communities. I’ll put myself on record as saying I have never been asked my opinion in person or in writing.

However, insurance industry figures allegedly show that whilst only one quarter of drivers are on the road between 7pm and 8am, forty per cent of crashes occur between these hours – with the highest number of accidents occurring in the weeks following the clocks changing.

A recent survey has found that two thirds of drivers opposed the switch-off and almost half expressed safety concerns about being able to see clearly (which is a bit of a worry anyway). They also worried about being seen by other drivers or had already experienced difficulty reading road signs. Almost a quarter said they tired more quickly as a result. We are told that because of these cuts drivers will begin to notice hundreds more miles of unlit road between the hours of midnight and 5am.

Conversely, it is estimated that that there are close to a million motors on our roads with lighting that is not up to MOT standards. As much as I would like to blame the councils for this, I cannot. We must blame the owners. So, if the councils are quite happy to let their electorate blunder about in the dark late at night then we’ll have to help ourselves. Make sure you regularly check the lights on your vehicle. You are going to need them.

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