Nearly 5,000 lamps are out of action in Edinburgh and Glasgow alone, with many more likely to be awaiting repair across the rest of the country.
Edinburgh City Council transport convener Lesley Hinds agreed the number of broken lights was “unacceptable”.
The faults have raised concerns for the safety of people walking in the dark.
Living Streets Scotland, which campaigns for pedestrians, demanded swifter action from councils.
Director Stuart Hay said: “Living Streets believes that streets must be safe at all times for all users.
“Night-time black spots will leave vulnerable people fearful of leaving their homes. We want to see more street inspections, including at night, and much simpler and responsive fault reporting systems so this problem can be tackled.”
Figures provided to Scotland on Sunday show some 2,960 lights are broken in Glasgow – 3.8 per cent of the total – and 1,707 in Edinburgh (2.7 per cent).
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (Rospa) also called for swifter repairs.
Road safety manager Nick Lloyd said: “Councils should have procedures in place which allow them to rectify faults in a timely fashion.
“Street lighting improves safety for drivers, riders, and pedestrians.
“Driving outside of daylight hours is more dangerous and pedestrians and vulnerable road users also suffer from decreased visibility in the dark. The presence of lighting not only reduces the risk of traffic accidents, but also their severity.”
Hinds said: “We understand that a faulty street light can be frustrating, and we are striving to minimise the number of defective street lights, which at present is unacceptable.
“However, any outage of lamps deemed to cause a risk to public safety – such as several lights in the same street – will be treated as an emergency and prioritised for repair.
“In the long term, our city-wide replacement of lanterns with LED lights will not only save energy but will provide a more reliable light source, resulting in fewer defects.”
A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: “The public can report a fault to RALF – our Roads and Lighting Faults – at any time so we can repair problems as soon as possible.
“In addition to the ongoing improvement works in street lighting across the city, the council has recently agreed a further £2.5m investment, which will allow some 6,000 lanterns to be upgraded.”