Decrease in road casualties on Transport Scotland roads amidst drop in traffic

New Transport Scotland statisticians have released provisional figures for road casualties showing a significant drop in 2020.

The figures show the total number of casualties fell by 35% between 2019 and 2020 (from 7,718 to 4,992), the lowest number since annual records began in 1950.  One hundred and forty two people were killed in reported road accidents in Scotland in 2020, twenty four fewer than in 2019. The number of people seriously injured was 1,539.

These casualty reductions will have been greatly influenced by the general reduction in motor traffic seen over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department for Transport (DfT) estimate that motor traffic volume dropped by 23% in Scotland in 2020 compared with 2019.

Compared to 2019, the total reported casualties decreased across all modes except pedal cyclists which increased by 2%. Bus and Coach casualties saw the largest decrease in the number of casualties (-58%).

These findings will also reflect, in part, changes in travel habits observed during to the pandemic. In 2020, the DfT estimate that cycling on the road network increased by 46% across Great Britain (with estimates for Scotland, which tend to be more volatile, suggesting a 61% increase over the same period). Bus passenger numbers are estimated to have dropped by 53% in 2020.

Scotland’s previous Road Safety Framework, which ran until 2020, contained five national targets for casualty reductions due for delivery in 2020. These targets compare performance to a 2004-2008 baseline and all 5 targets have provisionally been met.

Target2020 target reduction2020 achieved reduction
People killed40%51%
People seriously injured55%68%
Children (aged < 16) killed50%76%
Children (aged < 16) seriously injured65%77%
Slight injury rate per 100m vehicle kms10%68%

The figures released today were produced by independent statistical staff free from any political interference, in accordance with professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.


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