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Road traffic in Great Britain fell by 21% last year, likely due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. However, a new study shows that fatality rates increased by 6%.

The road casualties report, published by the Department for Transport, states that there were 1,472 fatalities in 2020, which is down from 1,752 in 2019. This means that deaths on our roads did decrease by 16%, but due to the lower levels of traffic, fatality rates actually rose.

Cyclists were among those worst affected, with the report showing a 40% increase in the number of deaths from 2019 to 2020. There was also a 46% rise in pedal cyclist traffic at this time though, meaning that the overall fatality rate dropped by 4%.

AA president Edmund King said: “Predictably, the pandemic has seen fatal and serious collisions drop by more than a fifth compared to last year, but tragically, more than 1,400 people were killed on the roads.

“If we are to achieve zero road deaths by the end of the decade, we must ensure this overall reduction is not a one-off.”

He also discussed the need for continued road safety campaigning, with the aim of reminding motorists to be cautious near cyclists. 

It is staggering that with car traffic down to as little as 22% of pre-lockdown levels and the big increase in protected pop-up routes, the level of cyclist casualties was so high,” said King. “This points strongly to the need for better engineering, more education and more cops in cars to help eliminate road deaths.

“We will continue to push our Think Bikes! campaign so that drivers take more care around cyclists.”

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