New government figures show a noticeable uptick in serious road casualties following the coronavirus lockdowns of 2020 and 2021. The provisional data from the Department for Transport (DfT) shows road casualties are returning to pre-pandemic levels after dipping during successive lockdowns in 2020 and 2021.

The data shows 29,795 people were killed or seriously injured on British roads in 2022 – an increase of more than 2,000 (8.5 percent) compared with 2021. That brought British road casualties closer to pre-pandemic levels than at any time since the coronavirus lockdowns of 2020, with a three-percent difference between 2019 and 2022. Of the people killed or seriously injured on British roads last year, 1,695 died – a reduction of three percent compared with 2019, but an increase of 8.8 percent on 2021 figures.

Those statistics follow an increase in casualties seen in 2021, as traffic levels began to increase following the lockdowns of spring and autumn 2020, and the early months of 2021. As a result, the number of people killed or seriously injured in 2021 was up by 14 percent compared with 2020.

Policeman and motorcycle behind cordon tape at an accident

Although the number of people killed on UK roads has barely fallen in the last 10 years, as 2022’s figures represent a decrease of just three percent compared with 2012, there has been a marked reduction in overall road casualties. Last year, 136,000 casualties of all severities were recorded – down 31 percent compared with 2012.

Unsurprisingly, drivers and passengers in cars were the most likely to be killed on British roads, accounting for 46 percent of all road deaths. However, pedestrians are the second most likely road users to be killed in road traffic incidents (22 percent) , followed closely by motorcyclists (21 percent).

“There’s no doubt these figures make for gloomy reading,” said RAC spokesperson Rod Dennis. “After a reduction in fatalities on our roads during the coronavirus lockdowns, the numbers are now rising again. Every person killed is one person too many and we feel improving road safety needs to be given the attention and resources it deserves. We urge the government to take a serious look at reintroducing casualty reductions targets to give the whole topic much more focus on a national stage.

“RAC research also shows an increasing proportion of drivers are concerned about the poor standard of driving. As many as one-in-three say it is one of their main concerns. As a result, we strongly believe the government should look at whether the long-term decline in full-time road traffic police officers has led to a worsening in driver behaviour and a rise in casualties as a result.”

Police Accident sign on a road in Surrey UK