UK sees road safety gain in 2020

The UK has seen a road safety gain in 2020.
Highway & Network Management / January 29, 2021 1 minute 10 seconds Read
By MJ Woof
The UK has seen a drop in crashes in the first half of 2020 - image © courtesy of Tom Schwimmbeck
Road safety improved in the UK during 2020. However, there is concern over the increased numbers of cyclists being injured on UK roads.

The data from the Department for Transport shows that UK traffic collisions in the 12 months up to June 2020 dropped 16% while road deaths fell by 14% compared to the equivalent period in the preceding year.

The research indicated that there were 131,220 casualties of all severities, compared with 156,034 in the same period for the previous year. Meanwhile, there 1,580 road deaths, compared with 1,827 for the previous year.

The drop in UK road deaths and casualties is directly linked to the reduction in traffic as a result of national lockdown restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic. In April 2020, for example, during the first lockdown which commenced on 23rd March, casualties fell by 67% as road traffic reduced by 49%.

Neil Greig, director of Policy & Research at the UK’s largest independent road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart, said: “Despite fears that speeding has increased substantially during the first lockdown it does now look as if the number of casualties has gone down in line with falling traffic numbers. This is certainly good news as it shows that the vast majority of car, van and lorry stuck drivers to the rules.

“However, the only way to confirm these trends and measure the true impact of local traffic closures and temporary cycle lanes is for the government to publish more details on what has happened throughout the rest of 2020.

“IAM RoadSmart thinks that it is unacceptable that we may have to wait until June 2021 to get the full picture for UK road safety during the pandemic. Other countries seem to be able to produce crash statistics much more quickly, allowing planners to deal with safety issues as they emerge and not after the event.”

While the reduction in overall casualties is good news for road safety generally, the reduction in casualties for cyclists were however less impressive, with the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured down just 4% in the period covered by the DfT’s report, compared with 26% of car users and 25% for all other road users in the same period.

Neil concluded: “While motor traffic reduced as a result of national lockdowns, cycling traffic increased and there has unfortunately not been the same positive impact on cycling casualties when compared with other road users. We therefore urge all road users to continue to be extra vigilant for cyclists as more people take to their bikes during lockdown.” 
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