The number of road accidents has fallen dramatically since the coronavirus crisis began, with fatalities down by around a fifth. That’s the conclusion of new research that suggests road safety has improved noticeably during the lockdowns and social distancing restrictions that punctuated the health crisis.

The study by car leasing comparison site LeaseLoco found road accidents were down by 30 percent in a year, as the country was locked down three times between March 2020 and February 2021. The figures, gathered using Freedom of Information requests submitted to UK police forces, also showed road fatalities were down by 20 percent and the number of serious injuries fell by 30 percent.

LeaseLoco’s data also reveals some regions experienced a more dramatic reduction in accidents than others. Kent and Cleveland saw accident rates fall by 15 and 14 percent respectively, while police in Scotland recorded 45 percent fewer accidents.

Car accident on M25 motorway with emergency services to the rescue in Berkshire UK

The number of people killed on British roads also varied, with the 20-percent average reduction exceeded by Durham, which saw a 67-percent drop in casualties. Suffolk (60 percent) and Warwickshire (50 percent) also saw fatalities fall dramatically.

However, three forces – Kent, Cambridgeshire and Thames Valley – saw fatalities increase. In Kent, 58 people were killed between March 2020 and February 2021, up from 40 during the previous 12-month period. However, only Leicestershire recorded an increase in serious injuries, with the figures up from 265 between March 2019 and February 2020 to 269 in the following 12 months.

“Since the end of March 2020, the country has been plunged into lockdown three times. During each of those lockdowns, people were asked to stay at home and to stay local if they went out,” said John Wilmot, the CEO of LeaseLoco. “Cars weren’t used and most roads across the country were quieter, which makes it a little surprising that the decrease in the number of accidents, fatalities and serious injuries on UK roads wasn't greater.

“The reality is that although roads were quieter during lockdown, as restrictions were eased we saw a surge of traffic on the roads as people were keen to take advantage of their new-found freedom. This could have contributed to a spike in accidents and the same could happen again over the summer with millions of people choosing to take their holidays in the UK this year. There is a danger we could see more accidents than normal over the coming months as the roads become clogged with traffic.”

Car accident on street showing damaged automobiles