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Road fatalities fall 17% in 2020 on back of lockdown restrictions

Fatalities on roads in Great Britain fell 17% year-on-year in 2020, linked to the reduction in travel in lockdown restrictions, but cyclist fatalities rose.

While overall fatalities fell, reported fatalities for cyclists actually increased 41%. All other road user categories, which include car occupants, motor cyclists and pedestrians amongst others, fell

Newly published reported road casualties figures from the Department for Transport show there were an estimated 1,460 reported road deaths in 2020 – which includes a total of four months of national lockdown.

The figures, taken from personal injury road traffic accidents reported by the police using the STATS19 reporting system, also reveal there were an estimated 23,529 killed or seriously injured (KSI) casualties in 2020, a decrease of 22% compared to the same period in 2019.

The number of casualties of all severities in 2020 fell to 115,584, down by 25% from 2019.

The declines are in line with the reduction in road traffic, which followed a similar trend in the same period and decreased by 21% last year.

However, when looking at road user type, reported fatalities for cyclists actually increased 41%. All other categories, which include car occupants, motor cyclists and pedestrians amongst others, fell.

The AA said the statistics provide clear evidence of the effects of lockdown travel restrictions during the pandemic and called for further action to build on the overall decline in road casualties and fatalities, while improving safety for cyclists.

Edmund King, AA president, continued: “Rather than simply accept this as a dip in the records, we should use this moment as the catalyst to reset ‘zero’ road deaths as the target for the end of the decade.

“As more people began to cycle, fatalities for cyclists increased by two fifths (41%) compared to 2019. While we don’t have the detail behind every single death, all drivers need to ensure they look for cyclists and ‘think bikes’, especially when turning at junctions and at roundabouts. Potholed roads need to be restored to prevent cyclists coming off their bikes or swerving into the path of vehicles.

“Moving swiftly to bring in technology, such as collision avoidance systems, makes the zero target much more achievable.”

King also said the data reflects emerging new trends that need to be factored in – for example, the statistics reveal there were 484 casualties in accidents involving e-scooters, of which 384 were e-scooters users.

He continued: “Deaths and injuries among young drivers on rural roads is proving a persistent problem. The AA has campaigned hard on this during the past year to raise awareness.

“With traffic returning to normal levels, we urge all road users to respect and look after each other. It is everyone’s responsibility to make our roads the safest in the world.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.

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