Road casualties drop by 35% as pandemic sees less traffic

Statistics for 2020 showed road casualties reached the lowest level since records began in 1950.

Road casualties drop by 35% as pandemic sees less traffic Getty Images

Casualties on Scotland’s roads fell by more than a third in 2020, as the drop in traffic due to the pandemic led to a large reduction in people being injured and killed.

Statistics for 2020 show casualties fell by 35% from the previous year, reaching the lowest level since records began in 1950.

Total casualties fell by 7718 to 4992 while 142 people were killed in 2020, a decrease of 24 from 2019.

Analysis from Transport Scotland says the trend is linked to lower levels of traffic on the roads during the pandemic, with estimates of motor traffic volume falling by 23% from 2019.

Total casualties for all modes of transport decreased with the exception of cyclists, which were up by 2%.

Previous studies have suggested cycling increased by 46% across Britain during 2020.

The reductions in casualties mean Scotland has met its road safety targets, which aim to eliminate road deaths and serious injuries by 2050.

Transport minister Graeme Dey said: “Whilst it is no surprise that with fewer car trips over the lockdown period we’re seeing fewer road casualties, prior to the pandemic road casualties in Scotland had been showing a clear, ongoing reduction.

“Improving road safety further remains a priority for the Scottish Government.

“Our road safety partners and I know that one death on Scotland’s roads is one too many.

“The fact we’ve met all our casualty reductions targets, putting us among the best performing European countries, means very little to those who have sadly lost friends and love ones in tragic circumstances.

“Road deaths are not an inevitability and they should not be expected to happen.

“We are committed to working with our partners to secure the ultimate vision established in Scotland’s Road Safety Framework to 2030 – Vision Zero – where no-one is killed on our roads.”

Jim Densham, Scottish policy manager for the national cycling organisation Cycling UK, said: “Quieter roads during lockdown encouraged many people in Scotland to cycle more often but a small rise in cycling casualties is worrying.

“It’s a warning to government and police that they must do more to protect vulnerable road users and ensure that people are not dissuaded from adopting active and healthy lifestyles for fear of becoming a road statistic.”

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