Changes in road transport due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Key Reported Road Casualties Scotland 2020

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[4].

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[5].
  • 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[6].

In addition to the above National Statistics, Transport Scotland has published weekly reports on transport trends across all main modes throughout the pandemic.