CALLS for motorway lights to be switched on during darkness are being made amid fears that the cost cutting measure is putting lives at risk.

Currently, control of the lighting on the M65 is split between the Highways Agency and Lancashire County Council.

Lancashire County Council runs a small stretch of the motorway between junction 11 to 14 and along this area the street lights are illuminated during darkness except from midnight to 5.30am, when the motorway is rarely used.

However, The Highways Agency, which controls the rest of the M65, have had a blanket policy on all motorway lighting being switched off since March 2011 when the policy was introduced as a cost cutting environmental measure.

Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson said: “I can understand the council switching them off during times the motorway is rarely used to save money.

“However, to keep them turned off at all times, in all weathers, is something that I will be bringing up with the Highways agency as I disagree with the blanket switch off.

“I think that the lights should be on whenever it’s dark.”

The call comes following complaints from motorists who said that during the recent bad weather conditions driving in the dark has become increasingly worrisome.

Chris Johnson, an Assessor who lives in Newchurch-in-Pendle, said: “I was driving on Wednesday during the torrential down pour and you could not see a thing.

“Cars were aquaplaning all over the road in front of me and you could just see the headlines, ‘Cost cutting costs lives’.

“It’s surprising that no one had a serious accident, but believe me, someone will have a serious accident if this is allowed to continue.

“I’ve contacted the Highways Agency to complain but nobody responded.

“You can’t see where the standing water is because there are no lights reflecting it - it is extremely dangerous.”

Neil Sterio, of the Highways Agency, said: “There are long stretches of the motorway network throughout England which have never had lighting at all.

"Importantly, as part of the programme, junctions remain lit.

“We, of course, have been monitoring the programme and there is nothing to suggest the initiative along the M65 has increased the risk of incidents or accidents."