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UK road deaths down significantly due to lockdown

New figures show a significant reduction in UK road deaths and casualties as a direct result of the fall in traffic during lockdown conditions.

The decline in UK road deaths and casualties is directly linked to the reduction in traffic as a result of national lockdown restrictions from the pandemic

The latest figures from the Department for Transport reveal there were an estimated 1,580 road deaths in the year ending June 2020, down 14% compared to the previous year. And there were 131,220 casualties of all severities, down by 16%.

The overall casualty rate per vehicle mile decreased by 2% over the same period. The DfT said the reduction in casualties is broadly in line with the reduction in traffic which decreased by 14% over this period.

The figures have been greeted by road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart, which said the decline in UK road deaths and casualties is directly linked to the reduction in traffic as a result of national lockdown restrictions from the pandemic. In April 2020, for example, during the first lockdown which started on 23 March, casualties fell by 67% as road traffic reduced by 49%.

Neil Greig, director of policy & research, 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.”

He added: “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.”

IAM also raised concerns over the number of cycling casualties; the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured was 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. This reflects the growing use of bikes as a means of transport and for exercise in lockdown.

Neil Greig 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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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. Natalie edits all the Fleet World websites and newsletters, and loves to hear about any latest industry news.