Figures released today show that 30 people lost their lives on South Yorkshire’s roads in 2020, in a stark reminder of the need to travel safely.
Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner joined the South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership and South Yorkshire Police in paying tribute to the families affected during the launch of the 2020 road casualty statistics today (Monday 28 June)
Today’s Department for Transport (DfT) official casualty statistics show that during 2020, 30 people sadly lost their lives on South Yorkshire’s roads and a further 2,644 people were injured in a collision. This was 18 per cent lower than in 2019.
Slight injury numbers dropped by 13 per cent and the number of people killed or seriously injured, reduced by 31 per cent in our area when compared with the previous year.
Thankfully, there were no child deaths on South Yorkshire roads.
While casualties in the first lockdown months of March, April and May were significantly reduced when compared with the same time period in previous years, the easing of restrictions in the summer and the rise in ‘staycations’ resulted in 13 per cent more casualties in August 2020 in South Yorkshire when compared to 2019.
Overall, there were fewer pedal cyclist casualties in 2020, but the percentage reduction was much lower than for other categories of road users. However, this is against a backdrop of much greater pedal cycle activity (up over 70 per cent), meaning that the risks to cyclists (calculated by the rate of casualties per mile travelled) actually reduced by around a half between 2019 and 2020.
Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “Every life lost on the roads is one too many. Whilst it is encouraging to see casualties have reduced over the last year we also have to consider that the amount of traffic was severely reduced during lockdowns.
“Over the last 12 months I have had many conversations with representatives of town and parish councils. These conversations have been dominated by concerns around road safety and speeding. As more people have been spending time in the homes and villages they have noticed vehicles speeding and potentially posing a danger.
“I will be supporting the South Yorkshire Road Safety Partnership by ensuring that road safety issues are highlighted in my forthcoming Police and Crime Plan with the aim of continuing to reduce serious and fatal road traffic accidents within South Yorkshire.”
Joanne Werhle, Manager of South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership (SYSRP), said that even though traffic volumes in our county reduced by around 20 per cent last year due to lockdown restrictions, 30 people were still fatally injured as a result of a road traffic collision.
She added: “For every death on our roads, there is a family suffering the unbearable loss of a loved one and we cannot underestimate the impact this loss will have on them for the rest of their lives.
“Our thoughts go out to those families and as a partnership, we will continue to do as much work as possible to prevent further loss on South Yorkshire’s roads.
“The pandemic has massively changed the way we all live our lives and continues to do so many months on.
“Even though we have had to change the way we work, our aim remains the same: to make our roads as safe as possible and to prevent further unnecessary loss.”
“The reduction in the number of casualties is very much consistent with the impact of lockdown on traffic volumes on our roads,” added Joanne.
“We’d like to thank all those members of the public who followed Government advice and stuck to the essential travel restrictions.
“By keeping our roads clear, you without doubt helped to save lives and protected our NHS at a time of unprecedented demand.”
The recently released provisional statistics for Great Britain show a similar trend to that experienced in South Yorkshire in 2020. Both total casualties and killed and seriously injured casualties reduced in line with road traffic decreases as a result of national lockdowns and COVID restrictions.
Superintendent Paul McCurry said: “It is positive that in South Yorkshire in 2020, overall casualty numbers reduced by 18 per cent.
“However, we must take into account that this period includes a number of national lockdowns which resulted in much less traffic on our roads. South Yorkshire Police continues to promote road safety and target areas of concern which are known hotspots for serious collisions.
“At the heart of all of our campaigns are the key elements which contribute to the fatal four: speeding, using a mobile phone at the wheel, not wearing a seatbelt and driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
“We actively encourage communities to participate in local Speedwatch initiatives to target any roads of concern with regards to speeding.”
During 2020, due to Covid restrictions, SYSRP was unable to attend schools, businesses and events to deliver road safety education interventions.
“Lockdown forced us to re-think the way that we engage with our priority road user groups and as a result, we now have a package of on-line learning tools,” added Joanne.
“We are slowly starting to get back out to schools and attend events so that we can continue to educate people of all ages across the county about road safety.
“As we head into the summer months, what we ask is that all road users adopt the same mindset of looking out for each other as we all move closer to some form of normality.”
To access the full casualty data for South Yorkshire and the four districts visit: https://sysrp.co.uk/statsarchive