UK road deaths drop for the first time in eight-years

Good news for the UK as provisional figures, released on 24 June, revealed a drop for the first time in eight years. With less traffic we have seen less deaths and injuries, but this was a unique year. Despite the drop, the UK’s largest independent road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart, continues to appeal for the Government to demonstrate real leadership to build on the lockdown reductions in death and injury on UK roads reported today.

Provisional figures for 2020 in: Reported road casualties in Great Britain: provisional results 2020, revealed there were 1,472 reported road deaths, compared to 1,748 in 2019. This drop of 16%, while positive, sits against the background of the global pandemic and four months of a national lockdown (April to June and November) which reduced traffic levels by 25%. It means that on average four people are still dying on UK roads every day, compared to five people a day in 2019.

A quick overview of the stats revealed:

  • an estimated 1,472 reported road deaths in 2020 which includes a total of 4 months of national lockdown (April to June and November) – a 16% fall
  • an estimated 23,486 killed or seriously injured (KSI) casualties in 2020, a decrease of 22% compared to the same period in 2019
  • the reduction in road traffic followed a similar trend in the same period and decreased by 21%
  • pedal cyclist casualty rates saw the greatest percentage decrease (34%) compared to all other road user types (because many more people cycled) BUT actual numbers of cyclists killed went up by 40 and by 40 % (100 were killed in 2019 and 140 in 2020)
  • children (aged 0 to 16 years) and older people (60 years and older) had the greatest percentage decrease of 84% and 74% respectively, compared to 3-year average for 2017 to 2019.
  • A similar pattern was observed during the second national lockdown where child casualties and older casualties decreased by 37% and 41% respectively, over the same period.

The rise in cycling injuries is worrying and shows the government must do more to protect them by building higher quality segregated cycling facilities.  White paint and temporary bollards are not enough to protect cyclists from motorised traffic

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart’s Director of Policy & Research, said: “These results are not unexpected. The reductions in deaths and serious injuries on roads are obviously related to the global pandemic and resulting lockdowns. We need UK Government to show real leadership and push road safety up the political agenda if we are to see real, sustainable return of year-on-year improvements.

Neil added: “While the reduction in deaths comes after 8 years of flat lining with no improvement in Britain’s road safety performance it means we are now bottom of the international league for rate of improvement. However, 2020 presents an opportunity for the Government to get its new road safety strategy in place and ‘build back safer’ for all road users.”

Neil continues: “Up to date collision information is essential to avoid transport policy being developed in a data vacuum. We urge the Government to issue road safety figures more frequently so that informed decisions can be made. This is particularly important following the significant shift we’ve seen in the last 15 months due to the pandemic and increasing use of new modes of transport.”

“Any new strategy must be well funded to ensure long term investment in safer roads, better facilities for vulnerable road users, fixing potholes and delivering more traffic police to raise the fear of being caught.  Lockdown showed that investment in road policing could help catch those criminals who continued to speed and drive under the influence.”