Keeping the lights on

Street lights are an essential part of infrastructure providing visibility, safety and a sense of security for those using roads and pavements.

Streetlights are important for a number of reasons – first and foremost safety and crime prevention. Well-lit areas deter certain criminals that benefit from the cover of darkness.

In 2022, the College of Policing reported that: “Overall, improved street lighting has been found to reduce crime. On average, violent and property crime reduced by 21 per cent in areas where street lighting was improved, relative to areas where it was not.”

Street lighting also improves the feeling of safety, meaning people are happier and more likely to be out in the evenings and contribute to the night-time economy.

This also improves quality of life for those living in the area, by extending the hours of outdoor activities, fostering community engagement, and creating a more inviting public space.

Street lighting is important for traffic flow and road safety. It can help drivers to navigate roads, intersections, and pedestrian crossings. It also improves safety for pedestrians on pavements and crossing roads.

There are several things you can do to ensure the continuing function of streetlights, to continue to provide benefits for those in the area.

Where energy and cost savings are important, consider the adoption of LED technology. Most councils have already started to replace all or some of their lights as part of regular maintenance. LED lights consume less energy than traditional bulbs and have a longer lifespan. As well as reducing energy costs, making the switch also reduces maintenance.

Carrying out energy audits can help to identify areas for improvement in energy efficiency. Measures like dimming during off-peak hours, motion sensors, and optimising light intensity can lead to substantial energy savings without compromising safety.

Smart lighting solutions are also an option. These systems enable remote monitoring and control. Sensors and automation technologies can amend lighting levels based on the environmental conditions, traffic patterns, or time of day. This means that lights are only on when they need to be.

Regular maintenance is a necessity – scheduled inspections and repairs mean issues are addressed promptly. This prevents prolonged downtime and reduces overall maintenance costs.

Financial incentives, grants and partnerships should also be investigated. Funds like the Safer Streets Fund are available. Partnerships with private companies can also help offset the initial investment costs, making the transition to more sustainable lighting solutions more economically feasible.

Street lighting is needed for visibility, safety and security. Whilst it is important to save money and energy, there are ways this can be done while ensuring that the lights do stay on.

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