Road fatalities rise 7% in 2021 with more than 1,500 deaths

There was a 7% increase in the number of people killed on Britain’s roads in 2021, figures show.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said an estimated 1,558 died in crashes last year.

That was up from 1,460 in 2020, when traffic levels plummeted following the coronavirus outbreak.

Last year’s total represents an 11% decrease compared with 2019, although traffic in 2021 continued to be limited by coronavirus restrictions including a period of lockdown between January and March.

­Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity, the RAC Foundation, said: “While the headline reduction in death and injury on the roads is welcome, the waters are still muddied by the impact of Covid and the damping effect it had on traffic volume.

“The worry must be that traffic returns to pre-pandemic levels resulting in casualty numbers and casualty risk also rising and remaining stubbornly high.”

Mr Gooding added that there are “signs the Government is serious about improving road safety”.

Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s growth plan set out an ambition to accelerate 45 safer road schemes in England, while the DfT has committed to establishing an investigation branch focused on road safety.

The DfT’s figures show the number of pedestrians injured after being hit by an e-scooter was more than four times higher in 2021 than the previous year.

Some 229 people travelling on foot were wounded by the contraptions last year, including 67 who were seriously hurt.

That is up from a total of 57 pedestrian casualties in 2020, which included just 13 serious injuries.

AA head of roads policy Jack Cousens said: “We were hopeful that the lockdowns and restricted travel throughout the pandemic would reset road deaths, but sadly they have increased from 2020 and a new trend has become more established.

“The wider introduction of micromobility into the national transport picture must look at how we can adopt new and emerging personal mobility tech without compromising the safety of all road users, including pedestrians.”