11/4/2021UK Government Reports On Road Safety Impact Of Lockdowns
Reduced lockdown travel cut UK road accidents in 2020. Data show speed not a significant factor in accidents, traffic calming caused 69 collisions.
By Richard Diamond
Figures released by the UK Department for Transport (DfT) confirmed that the number of traffic collisions dropped as officials ordered the public to stay home. Overall road traffic plunged from 356.5 billions miles traveled in 2019 to 280.5 during the lockdown of 2020. As a result, injury accidents on the road plunged 68 percent in April 2020 before returning to 25 percent for the rest of the year, nearly matching the 21 percent drop in miles traveled.
The UK lockdown lasted four months -- April, May, June and November. The DfT confirmed the UK's 17 percent fatality reduction in 2020 matched the decrease seen in the Europe as those countries also shut down their economies in response to the coronavirus scare. Bicyclists, however, proved to be the exception. Bicycles were involved in 17 fatal crashes during the UK lockdown, compared to 6 in 2019.
Data in the latest Road Casualties Great Britain report confirm that exceeding the posted speed limit rarely causes accidents. According to the DfT, "exceeding the speed limit" was listed as a contributing factor to just 7 percent of the 59,980 accidents in 2020. From 2014 to 2018, the figure was 5 percent of all accidents. This matches US statistics that show about 7 percent of accidents were caused by drivers who exceeded the posted speed limit (view report). Individual US states have reported similar findings (view report).
Officials in both the US and UK emphasize the broader category of "speeding related" accidents which includes incidents involving driving too fast for the conditions, but not necessarily over the posted limit to justify the the lowering of speed limits, use of speed cameras and installation of traffic calming devices. The DfT's own report, however, notes that traffic calming, defined as including speed bumps and chicanes, were responsible for ten fatalities between 2013 and 2020. There were also 207 injury accidents and 644 minor collisions.
Over the same period, there were another 19,632 accidents attributed to "road layout," which can include roads that have been narrowed as a traffic calming measure. However, this general category is more often used to count roads that have always been difficult to navigate, not just the ones altered by traffic planners.
A copy of the report is available in a 500k PDF file at the source link below.