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The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) is deeply concerned that Department for Transport (DfT) figures released today show an increase in the number of fatal collisions involving cyclists and children, despite an overall reduction in the number of road deaths following a year of lockdowns.
The DfT published the Reported Road Casualties Great Britain 2020 which shows that last year 1,460 people were killed on our roads, which is a fall of 17 per cent compared with the figure in 2019. In 2020, there were a total of 115,584 reported road casualties of all severities, which was a fall of 25 per cent from the previous year. For much of 2020, there was a COVID lockdown and the RAC estimated that miles travelled in Great Britain were 21 per cent down on the previous year.
Alarmingly, data from the DfT shows that in 2020, 141 cyclists were killed in road accidents. This was up 41 per cent from 100 deaths in the previous year. The number of children killed on Britain’s roads also increased, from 49 in 2019 to 52 in 2020.
David Walker, Head of Road and Leisure Safety at RoSPA said: “By any measure 2020 was an abnormal year. It is of no surprise that the overall number of road casualties fell. This is in no small part due to less traffic on the roads. With traffic levels returning to pre-pandemic levels and some understandable reluctance towards using public transport, we must today continue to focus on the harm to motorists and more significantly, from motorists.
“We welcome the fact that more people have been getting out on their bikes and recognise the reduction in the rate of deaths per mile travelled. However, this should not distract from the shocking fact that more cyclists and more children died on our roads than in the previous year.
“At RoSPA we believe that having more cyclists and pedestrians should not result in an increased number of serious and fatal accidents involving vulnerable road users.
“We must continue to act decisively if we want to maintain the position of British roads being among the safest in the world.”
With travel restrictions in place throughout 2020, there was a huge increase in the number of people electing to use active travel such as walking and cycling. According to the DfT‘s Road Traffic Estimates in Great Britain 2020, pedal cycle traffic was up by 45.7 per cent from the previous year.