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Marchant, P., Hale, J. D., & Sadler, J. P. (2020). Does changing to brighter road lighting improve road safety? Multilevel longitudinal analysis of road traffic collision frequency during the relighting of a UK city. J. Epidemiol. Community Health, .
Abstract: Background A step change in the night environment is taking place, with the large-scale installation of bright, broad-spectrum road lighting such as white light-emitting diodes (LEDs). One justification for this is a reduction in road traffic collisions (RTCs). This study aimed to estimate the effect of new lighting on personal injury RTCs within a large UK city.
Methods We analysed a 9-year time series of weekly RTC personal injury counts in 132 areas of the city using multilevel modelling. The RTC rate over a full 24-hour period was the primary outcome; darkness and daylight RTC rates were secondary. The background change in RTC rate was separated from the change associated with the number of newly installed bright lamps by including a polynomial underlying time trend for the logarithm of the mean number of collisions per week for each area. The study was based on a rigorous, predesigned and archived protocol.
Results Within-area coefficients for the broad lighting effect were positive; as the number of bright lamps in an area increased, so did the RTC rate. The estimate for the increase in the within-area 24-hour RTC rate is 11% (95% CI 2% to 20%). The estimate of darkness-only RTCs is 16% (95% CI 2% to 32%). If the effect of lighting on darkness RTC rate is adjusted by that for daylight, one obtains 4% (95% CI −12% to +23%).
Conclusion No evidence was found for bright lamps leading to an improvement in road safety in any of the analyses. For this city, introducing brighter road lighting may have compromised safety rather than reducing harm.