The AA has warned the West’s highways could spiral into chaos if cash-strapped councils continue to switch off street lights to save money.

The transport giant yesterday predicted there could be more crime and crashes on the region’s roads if authorities go ahead with plans to turn off some lights completely, and turn others off at selected times as an economy measure.

This year alone North Somerset council chiefs have agreed to switch off 500 lights on main routes in the district following a successful trial in other areas.

The authority wants to switch off lights on sections of the A38, A369 and A370 between 12.30am and 5am each night.

Several communities in Gloucestershire have also hatched plans to tun out the lights. In total, 59 parish and town councils took part in a midnight switch-off in February last year, including Andoversford,Bourton-on-the -Water, Cirencester, Chipping Campden, South Cerney and Tewkesbury.

Several stretches of motorway, including sections of the M4 and M5, have also had the lights switched off to save funds.

But AA president Edmund King has slammed the decisions saying councils are leaving people “in the dark”.

He said: “There is a fear that in some areas these switch-offs could lead to more crashes and crime.

“Lighting can improve safety for drivers, riders, and pedestrians and deter street crime.

“The public are in favour of street lighting as a way of improving road safety. Cyclists and pedestrians are more at risk on unlit streets.

“Local authorities should consider more environmentally-friendly lighting that can save them