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Coronavirus: Reduction in road deaths and collisions

car crash

Traffic collisions in the 12 months up to June 2020 were down 16% and road deaths have reduced by 14% compared to the equivalent period in the preceding year, new data from the Department for Transport (DfT) shows.

The research indicated that there were 131,220 casualties of all severities (compared to 156,034 previously) and 1,580 road deaths (down from 1,827 the previous year) in Great Britain.

The decline in road deaths and casualties is directly linked to the reduction in traffic as a result of national lockdown restrictions from the Covid-19 pandemic, says road safety charity IAM RoadSmart.

In April 2020, for example, during the first lockdown in March, casualties fell by 67% as road traffic reduced by 49%.

Neil Greig, director of policy and research at 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,” added Greig.

While the reduction in overall casualties is good news for road safety generally, the reduction in casualties for cyclists were, however, less impressive.

The number of cyclists killed or seriously injured down just four per cent 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.

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.”  

The full report from DfT - Reported road casualties in Great Britain - can be found here

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