The Slovenia Times

Safety concerns prompt end of energy saving at motorways

Wet conditions on a motorway heading toward Ljubljana.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

After turning the lights off on some motorway sections nearly three months ago to save on energy costs, Slovenia's national motorway company (DARS) has switched the lights back on, finding the safety risks to be too big.

DARS shut off lights on slip roads and along open sections of motorways where this is possible under law in late October. The measure was to reduce the company's annual electricity consumption by 10% and save it some €700,000.

More than 60% of lights along those roads were shut off and the rest of the lighting in tunnels, at motorway junctions, intersections with physically separated lanes, and rest stops was adapted to the minimum required standards.

Already at the time the Slovenian Automobile and Motorcycle Association (AMZS) warned that the potential risks of such cost saving measure were too great.

Their concerns have proved to be justified. The commercial broadcaster POP TV reported earlier this week that several angry drivers complained to DARS that they nearly missed the motorway exit because it was too dark.

The AMZS, the Traffic Safety Agency and some other institutions called on DARS in early January to put all the motorway lights back on. The AMZS said motorways claimed more lives last year than in the years before, so there should be no experimenting with lights there.

Infrastructure Minister Bojan Kumer acknowledged the situation now was different from what it was in October when Slovenia's largest two power plants were offline and there was uncertainty of how companies and households would get through winter.

DARS is now determined to make savings in other ways, including by switching to LED lighting.


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