Trends in the reported numbers of Injury Road Collisions and Casualties

Trends in the reported numbers of Injury Road Collisions and Casualties

Main Points

Table 1 shows the long-term trends in the reported numbers of injury road collisions and casualties, the population of Scotland, the number of vehicles licensed, the length of the road network and the volume of traffic. Information on the severities of the collisions, and of the injuries suffered by the casualties, is provided in Table 2. The numbers of injury road collisions were first recorded separately in 1966, while the numbers of casualties are available back to 1938, with annual collection of data starting in 1950. Figures 1 to 7 illustrate the trends in the reported numbers of injury road collisions and casualties including (in some cases) indications of the likely range of random year–to-year variations.

As mentioned in the introduction, injury collisions not reported by the public to the police won't appear in the returns. Note that each collision will result in one or more casualties. For example a fatal collision could result in two fatalities and a serious injury which would count as one collision and 3 casualties.

As outlined in the Supporting Information section, Police Scotland's move to CRASH, an injury-based reporting system, has resulted in changes in severity reporting for serious and slight casualties and collisions. For years 2004-2019, this publication uses figures that have been adjusted for comparability. Table 2 provides a comparison between the adjusted figures and the figures 'as recorded'.


  • In 2022, there were 153 fatal collisions, 17 (13%) more than in 2021.
  • In 2022 there were 1,527 serious injury collisions.
  • In 2022 there were 2,454 slight injury collisions.


  • There were 173 people killed in road collisions in Scotland in 2022, 32 more than in 2021.
  • 1,776 people were seriously injured in road collisions in 2022.
  • 3,672 people were slightly injured in road collisions in 2022.
  • There were a total number of 5,621 casualties in 2022 – 506 (10%) more than in 2021.

The figures have been increasing steadily since the lows that were seen during the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021. Apart from fatalities, the figures are lower than they were prior to the pandemic.

Reported Collisions

In 1966 there were just over 23,200 injury road collisions and the annual total remained around this level until 1973. Numbers then dropped considerably in 1974 and 1975 to about 20,600. This was the time of a fuel crisis when a national speed limit of 50 mph was introduced and the volume of traffic in Great Britain fell by 3% in 1974. Collision numbers increased again in 1976 and reached a peak of nearly 23,100 in 1979.

In the early 1980s numbers began to fall, and did so particularly sharply in 1983 when the total number of injury collisions fell by 7% in a single year to 19,400, serious collisions fell by 13% to just over 6,400, and fatal collisions fell by 11% to 568. The 1981 Transport Act came into force in 1983 and changed the law relating to drink driving, with the introduction of evidential breath testing. Compulsory front seatbelt wearing and new procedures for licensing learner motorcyclists were also introduced in 1983. After 1983 the total number of injury collisions increased again to over 20,600 in 1985, and the number of serious collisions rose to just over 6,500 while fatal collisions continued a downward trend.

By 1987 the total number of injury collisions had fallen to under 18,700, but in 1989 it rose to just over 20,600. 1989 was the most recent peak in the total number of injury collisions. Since 1989, the total number of injury collisions has fallen in 28 out of 32 years, and in 2020 it was at the lowest level ever recorded. The 2022 figure of 4,134 was 226 more than in 2021.

Since the late 1980s, the number of fatal collisions has fallen considerably e.g. from 517 in 1987 to 135 in 2021. For serious collisions, the trend has also been downwards. The number of slight collisions did not share such a clear downward trend between 1970 and 1998, oscillating between 12,000 and 15,000 with a recent peak level of 14,443 in 1990. However, they fell below 12,000 in 1999. The 2022 figure was 2,454.

Reported Casualties

As the numbers of collisions have fallen, so have the numbers of casualties. Therefore, this section does not repeat the previous section's detailed analysis of how the numbers have changed. Details can be found in Table 2.

Numbers killed

In 2022 there were 173 people killed in road collisions in Scotland, 32 more than in 2021. With a few exceptions, figures fell in each year since 1978, showing a clear, steady long-term downward trend, particularly between 1982 and 1994. Since then, figures have been fluctuating around a less pronounced downwards trend. The number in 2022 was the highest in the last seven years.

Numbers seriously injured

In 2022 there were 1,776 people seriously injured in road collisions. The long-term trend shows that the number of serious casualties peaked in the early 1970s at around 10,000 and has generally fallen since the early 1980s. The long-term downward trend appeared to level off at around 4,050 in the mid to late nineties, but the downward trend subsequently resumed. The number of people seriously injured in 2022 increased by 10% on 2021.

Numbers slightly injured

In 2022 there were 3,672 people slightly injured. Between 1970 and 1990, the figures fluctuated between 17,000 and 21,000. The fall between 1990 and 1995 was followed by an apparent levelling-off at around 17-18,000 in each of the years from 1996 to 1999. However, 2004 to 2021 showed consecutive falls continuing downward trend. The number of people slightly injured in road collisions in 2022 increased by 9% on 2021.

Total numbers of casualties

In 2021 there was a total of 5,621 casualties, 506 (10%) more than in 2021 (the third lowest number recorded). Between about 1970 and 1990, the figures fluctuated around a general downward trend. Subsequently, the casualty figures fell markedly from the level of the most recent short-term peak (over 27,000 in both 1989 and 1990), before appearing to level off. However, the downward trend resumed from 1999 to 2020.

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