Lives saved on roads during lockdowns heralds renewed efforts to reduce deaths and injuries

The drop of a fifth in deaths and serious injuries on roads in 2020, due to lockdowns reducing traffic, was the first decline in years and heralds renewed efforts to make roads safe for us all, say road safety campaigners during Road Safety Week this week. 

An analysis of Government statistics by road safety charity Brake indicates about 300 deaths and more than 6,000 serious injuries were prevented due to lighter traffic in 2020, compared with 2019. Road deaths and serious injuries declined across Britain, with the biggest drops seen in Scotland, followed by Wales, South West England, and London. The areas with the biggest reductions in those killed or seriously injured in percentage terms were Scotland, followed by Yorkshire and the Humber, North East England and the East of England.

There were, however, still 1,460 deaths and more than 22,000 serious injuries on roads in 2020, causing devastation to families across the country. Across the country, South East England was the only region to see an increase in deaths last year (239 up from 214 in 2019) – an increase of 12 per cent. 

As traffic levels rise again, Road Safety Week is celebrating the work of “road safety heroes” across the country who are working to tackle deaths and serious injuries and turn the one-year drop into a downward trend, including Government plans for a new road safety strategy; local authorities building cycle paths; companies working to ensure they use vehicles safely; and communities working for changes where they live, such as 20mph speed limits.

This year’s campaign also celebrates the invaluable efforts of the emergency services, including those who police the roads and save lives, at the roadside and in hospitals, and the work of the National Road Victim Service, caring for the emotional and practical needs of road victim families, as well as community services including mental health services and disability and peer support charities.

Brake, which coordinates the annual campaign, is calling for individuals, communities and organisations to share stories of their own road safety heroes – through social media, in schools, in company team meetings or special events.

Jason Wakeford, Head of Campaigns at Brake, said: “Reductions in the number of people killed or seriously injured on the roads – due to lockdown restrictions last year – are to be welcomed but should also inspire more action to make roads safer as traffic returns to pre-pandemic levels.

“Road Safety Week is the UK’s biggest annual road safety campaign and is a great opportunity to speak up for road safety. This year everyone can acknowledge and celebrate the heroic efforts of people working to save lives on roads across the country – and recognise that we can all be road safety heroes by using roads safely and taking actions for road safety in our families, schools, communities and where we work.

“We would urge everyone to visit the Road Safety Week website for loads of ways to take part in the campaign all this week.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps added: “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.

“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.”

Ailsa Firth, HR Director and CSR Community sponsor at Arval UK, said: “Within the fleet industry there is a reliance on support from so many of the emergency services, professionals and unsung heroes out there who help to keep people safe on their journeys.

“We cannot think of a better way to celebrate and recognise those heroes, by making them central to Road Safety Week 2021 and highlighting the great work they are doing in communities and organisations across the country.”

Helen Flanagan, Operations Director, Network Logistics and Transport at DHL Supply Chain UKI, said: “DHL Supply Chain is once again proud to sponsor Road Safety Week. DHL employs a large number of Road Safety Heroes across the UK, and fully supports Brake’s work to highlight everyone who helps to keep roads safe.”

Jon Furmston, Openreach Director for Assurance and Governance, said: “Making sure that everyone gets home safe every day is paramount to everything we do at Openreach. Reducing road risk is key to that and we strive to do everything we can to keep our drivers, other road users and members of the public safe when we’re out in our vehicles keeping the UK connected.

“We’re delighted to be supporting Road Safety Week 2021 as it’s such an important issue and look forward to celebrating all the fantastic people who are working to make our roads safer for everyone.”

(Picture – Yay Images)


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