New analysis from Brake suggests more than 6,000 serious injuries and around 300 deaths were prevented due to lighter traffic in 2020, compared with 2019.
The first in several years, the decline in deaths and serious injuries should herald a renewed road safety focus says Brake at the start of Road Safety Week (November 15-21).
The biggest drops were seen in Scotland, followed by Wales, South West England and London as road deaths and serious injuries declined across Britain.
Scotland was the area with the biggest reduction in those killed or seriously injured in percentage terms, followed by Yorkshire and the Humber, North East England and the East of England.
There were, however, still 1,469 deaths and more than 22,000 serious injuries on roads in 2020. 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%.
Head of campaigns at Brake, Jason Wakeford, 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.”
As traffic levels continue to rise, 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.
The emergency services is also being celebrated during this year’s campaign, including those who police the roads and save lives, at the roadside and hospitals, and the work of the National Rod 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.
Wakeford said: “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.
Coordinating the annual campaign, Brake is calling for individuals, communities and organisations to share stories of their own road safety heroes. This can be done through social media, schools, in company team meetings or special events.
Grant Shapps, Transport secretary, said: “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.”