Dutch to switch on lights again on highways
After six years of darkness on the Dutch highways, the Netherlands has decided to switch on the lights again for safety reasons. In Belgium, Flanders has no intentions to follow the Dutch example, Wallonia is rather betting on ‘intelligent lighting’.
Respect for wildlife
Since the spring of 2013, the lights on some 550 kilometers of the Dutch highways go out after 9 or 11 p.m. Now the Dutch authorities have decided to reverse this measure for safety reasons. New studies have shown that lighted roads not only improve traffic safety but also the perception of it, the Dutch say.
The only places where the lights will not be switched on again are places where wildlife can be disturbed.
2 million euros
In Belgium, it was the then Minister of Public Works, Hilde Crevits (CD&V), who decided in 2011 to switch out the lights on a large part of the Flemish highways. The measure would bring in a 2-million-euro saving. Two years later, the Dutch followed the Flemish example and turned out the lights on 550 kilometers of the highway network.
Flanders doesn’t see any reason to reverse the measure as the Dutch do now. “There is no indication of spectacular safety improvement,” says Stef Willems of the Vias traffic and safety institute. “And there’s no study showing fewer accidents. Darkness does not increase the risk of a crash.” As a matter of fact, most Flemish citizens (59%) want the lights out at night.
That is why in Flanders only particular places on the highways are lighted, like slip roads and exits, or sharp bends. The alternating dark and lighted stretches increase the vigilance in drivers.
The cabinet of Flemish Minister of Mobility, Ben Weyts (N-VA), agrees with this vision. “Twenty percent of our highways or some 300 kilometers are permanently lighted. Furthermore, 30% of the network is equipped with a dynamic lighting system that can put on the lights in case of bad weather or poor visibility. So, we stick to that principle.”
‘Light Plan 4.0’
In Wallonia, the situation is even better. “We will soon have the most sophisticated lighting system in Europe,” says Marie Minet, spokesperson for Carlo Di Antonio (cdH), the Walloon Minister of Mobility.
With its ‘Light Plan 4.0’, Wallonia will gradually install new lights and will renovate its LED lighting infrastructure – about 100.000 lighting points – in the following years. The Walloon government is planning to invest 30 million euros per year over twenty years for the project.
“The new technology will guarantee permanent subtle lighting, but the light intensity can be adjusted, according to the circumstances, or in case of an accident.”