There is a myth that a brightly lit nighttime environment improves safety and security. However, studies have not found evidence that increased outdoor lighting deters crime or increases safety.
A FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY
We all desire to keep ourselves and our property safe from theft and vandalism. But when outdoor lighting design is bad, it can reduce our safety. Bright and poorly aimed lights can be dangerous because they create deep shadows where criminals can hide.
Crimes like vandalism and graffiti thrive on night lighting. As an example, bright dusk-to-dawn outdoor lights allow criminals to quickly see the contents of parked cars.
BRIGHT MUNICIPAL LIGHT DOES NOT EQUAL SAFETY
Increasing lighting in parking lots, shopping areas, parks, and other public places will only increase safety if done right. But criminals are actually attracted to areas with improperly aimed and poorly shielded lights because it allows them to see what they’re doing.
The city of Chicago conducted a study that found a correlation between increased crime and brightly lit alleyways.
BRIGHT LIGHTS REDUCE SAFETY FOR DRIVERS
When unshielded street lights and electronic signs cast glare into the eyes of motorists and pedestrians, it can cause quick, temporary blindness. This contributes to tragic traffic and pedestrian accidents at night. The risk of this kind of temporary blindness increases with age.
A 2015 study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that streetlights don’t prevent accidents or crime, but do cost a lot of money.
Glare from street lights diminishes the eyes’ ability to adapt to low-light conditions, making driving under them less safe.
- Use fully-shielded fixtures to make the light shine down, not up or outward which creates glare.
- Only use lights where needed, installing timers and dimmers. Turn lights off when not in use, or install a motion sensor.