Changes in road transport due to the COVID-19 pandemic
Due to the impact of COVID-19 and the associated restrictions on daily activity, there have been changes in people’s travel behaviour over the course of 2020. A number of these changes are relevant to the discussion of reported road casualties.
- In 2020 there was a significant drop in the volume of motor traffic in Scotland. The UK government’s Department for Transport (DfT) estimates that motor traffic volume dropped by 23% in Scotland in 2020 compared with the previous year.
In general terms, reductions in traffic should lead to smaller numbers of interactions between road users. Therefore, all else being equal, we would expect to see a decrease in the number of accidents as a result.
- DfT produce estimates of cycling on the road network, which suggests that cycling on the road network increased by 46% across Great Britain. The DfT also produce estimates for Scotland, although these tend to be more volatile. These estimates suggest a 61% increase in road cycling for Scotland over the same period.
- The latest quarterly bus statistics, also from DfT, suggest that bus use has dropped significantly. Total bus passenger numbers in Scotland were down 53% in 2020 compared with 2019.
In addition to the above National Statistics, Transport Scotland has published weekly reports on transport trends across all main modes throughout the pandemic.