UK road deaths dropped for the first time in eight years during 2020.

The coronavirus saw a significant reduction in traffic levels and therefore crashes.

Figures from the Department for Transport show there were 1,472 reported road deaths in 2020, compared to 1,748 in 2019.

A new start

IAM RoadSmart is campaigning for the Government to demonstrate “real leadership”. They want to see real efforts to build on the lockdown reductions in death and injury on UK roads.

“These results are not unexpected. The reductions in deaths and serious injuries on roads are obviously related to the global pandemic and resulting Lockdowns,” states Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart’s Director of Policy & Research. “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.

The reduction in deaths comes after eight years of flat lining. There has been no improvement in Britain’s road safety performance placing the UK bottom of the international league for rate of improvement.

Greig believes this presents an opportunity for the Government to get proactive. He is calling or a “new road safety strategy in place and ‘build back safer’ for all road users”.

The figures

The Government report highlights an estimated 23,486 killed or seriously injured (KSI) casualties in 2020. This is a decrease of 22% compared to the same period in 2019.

Total casualties fell by 25% to 115,333, when compared to 2019.

These drops broadly align with total road traffic during the period decreasing by 21%.

Pedal cyclist casualty rates see the greatest percentage decrease (34%) compared to all other road user types. This is due to disproportionate increase in the number of people cycling.

The actual numbers of cyclists killed went up by 40% (100 were killed in 2019 and 140 in 2020).

Capital safety

Transport for London (TfL) has published its own data. This shows that the number of people killed or seriously injured on London’s roads fell by 21% over the year. Despite the decreases, 96 people were killed and 2,974 suffered serious injuries on the Capital’s roads during 2020.