Street lighting a low cost remedy for road fatality ‘epidemic’

January 21st, 2009 - 5:20 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Jan 21 (IANS) Street lighting is a low cost, simple yet effectve remedy for the ‘global epidemic’ of road fatalities and injuries, according to a new study. Low-income countries should consider installing more lights, and high income countries should think carefully before turning any off to reduce carbon emissions, said researchers in a Cochrane Review.

Street lighting may be considered an obvious means of preventing road traffic crashes, but the scientific evidence for this has been uncertain.

But a systematic review by Cochrane Researchers now shows that street lighting does indeed reduce crashes and injuries on the roads.

The World Health Organisation estimates that one million people die each year on 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,” said lead researcher Fiona Beyer, of the Institute of Health and Society at the University of Newcastle in Britain.

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 percent and 55 percent and fatal injury crashes by 77 percent.

Without intervention, the number of deaths due to road traffic crashes is expected to reach 2.3 million by 2020. It is thought that nine out of 10 deaths will occur in low and middle income countries, said a Newcastle University release.

But Beyer said the results may also have implications for policy makers who plan to reduce public street lighting to cut carbon emissions and costs.

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