Around 300 deaths were prevented on UK roads last year as the coronavirus lockdowns reduced traffic volumes, a leading road safety charity has said. Brake says its analysis of government road casualty statistics suggests about 300 deaths and 6,000 serious injuries were prevented because traffic was lighter in 2020.
The data shows the number of road deaths and serious injuries declined across Britain, with Scotland, Wales and the south-west of England seeing the greatest reduction in casualties. Death and injury figures also fell in London. In percentage terms, the biggest reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured was found in Scotland, with Yorkshire and the Humber, the north-east of England and the east of England in tow.
Overall, the figures show 292 fewer people were killed in 2020 compared with 2019 – a reduction of 17 percent.
Despite these figures, though, 2020 still saw 1,460 people killed on Great British roads, with more than 22,000 serious injuries sustained. And the south-east of England saw deaths increase slightly, up 12 percent from 214 in 2019 to 239 last year.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps welcomed the drop in casualties, but said the government would work to make roads even safer. In particular, he singled out the long-running Think! campaigns, which aim to educate drivers and improve their behaviour.
“While the UK has some of the safest roads in the world, we’re always working to make them even safer – and we very much welcome the drop in casualties during the pandemic,” he said. “We will continue to work tirelessly to help see further reductions, including through our Think! campaign, which tackles behaviours that can lead to serious road incidents and our ongoing review of roads policing.”
Meanwhile Jason Wakeford, the head of campaigns at Brake, said the results should lead the government and other policymakers to do more to ensure roads become safer as traffic volumes return to the levels seen before the coronavirus pandemic.
“Reductions in the number of people killed or seriously injured on the roads – due to lockdown restrictions last year – are to be welcomed,” he said. “But [they] should also inspire more action to make roads safer as traffic returns to pre-pandemic levels.”