National statistics

Reported road casualties in Great Britain, provisional estimates: year ending June 2021

Published 25 November 2021

The recent trends in reported road casualties have been impacted by the national restrictions implemented from March 2020 onwards following the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. More details about the coronavirus restrictions can be found in timeline of UK government coronavirus lockdowns.

About this release

This release provides an estimate of the number of personal injury road traffic accidents in Great Britain that were reported by the police in the year ending June 2021 using the STATS19 reporting system. It also includes the number of people killed or injured in these accidents and which road user group they were in. These figures are provisional as they will change following the end of year validation process. All the figures in this release have been rounded to the nearest 10. More information on STATS19 and how road accident data is collected can be found in the background notes.

Headline figures

There were an estimated 1,390 reported road deaths in the year ending June 2021, a decrease of 11% compared to the year ending June 2020. There was a decrease of 22% compared to the 3 rolling year average for 2017 to 2019 (prior to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic).

There were an estimated 24,530 killed or seriously injured (KSI) casualties in the year ending June 2021, a decrease of 6% compared to the year ending June 2020. There was a decrease of 22% compared to the 3 rolling year average for 2017 to 2019.

There were 119,850 casualties of all severities in the year ending June 2021, down by 9% from the year ending June 2020. There was a decrease of 28% from the 3 rolling year average for 2017 to 2019.

The overall casualty rate per billion vehicle miles decreased by 3% over the same period in 2020. There was a decrease of 14% from the 3 rolling year average for 2017 to 2019.

The reduction in total casualties is greater than the reduction in traffic which decreased by 5% from the year ending June 2020. There was a decrease of 16% from the 3 rolling year average for 2017 to 2019.

Chart 1: Estimated total casualties, all road traffic (billion vehicle miles), fatalities and KSI (adjusted) in Great Britain, year ending June 2011 to year ending June 2021 (RAS45006)

Things you need to know

Provisional figures

Figures in this release are provisional and are based on data supplied by police forces at the 1st November 2021. Figures will change following updates from the police and the end of year validation process. Missing data for Avon and Somerset, Hampshire, Wiltshire and South Wales police forces have been imputed for April, May or June. Dyfed Powys submitted no data for 2021 and therefore 6 months have been imputed. Greater Manchester, Northamptonshire and Staffordshire have incomplete data for June but no imputation has been made as we have assessed that most of the data has been submitted.

On the other hand, there might be some duplicates as some casualties might have been logged twice or more by police forces, these will be deleted following in year validation. This is unlikely to affect the national trends but will have a bigger impact on figures for the police force area. More information on the mid-year estimates methodology can be found in the mid-year methodology note.

Severity adjustment

From 2016 onwards, figures on the severity of injury have been affected by a large number of police forces changing their reporting systems. In previous years, serious injuries may have been classified as slight injuries which impacts the comparability of these figures over time.

The figures in this release are based on adjusting figures reported by the police to take account of changes in the reporting of injury severity by some police forces in recent years. These adjusted figures can reliably be used to compare trends over time across the country. They are based on what we estimate the totals would be if all police forces were using injury-based severity reporting systems. More details on severity adjustments and changes in reporting systems can be found in the severity adjustments section on our quality and methodology page.

Figures as reported by the police (before adjustment) are presented alongside adjusted figures in the accompanying data tables.

Data coverage

There is no obligation for people to report all personal injury accidents to the police. These figures, therefore, do not represent the full range of all accidents or casualties in Great Britain. All accidents that were reported by the police and that occurred on a public highway involving at least one motor vehicle, horse rider or pedal cyclist, and where at least one person was injured are included in these statistics.

Further information about the data collected, notes, definitions and guidance is available in the background notes and more detailed guidance.

Figures for rolling year ending June 2021

In early March 2020, the UK government set out its response to the coronavirus pandemic, including restrictions on travel. Coronavirus has had a wide impact on UK society and economic activity since March 2020, and continued to affect the road safety statistics throughout the first half of 2021. More information on the impacts on road safety statistics during 2020 can be found in our release the impact of lockdown on reported road casualties in Great Britain.

The summary Table 1 below shows the number of reported road casualties in Great Britain in the year ending June 2021 compared with 2020, and 2017 to 2019 average.

Table 1: Estimated road casualties, by severity, Great Britain, year ending June 2021

Severity 2021 % change from 2020 % change from (2017 to 2019 average)
Killed 1,390 -11 -22
Seriously injured (adjusted) 23,140 -6 -22
KSI (adjusted) 24,530 -6 -22
Slightly injured (adjusted) 95,320 -9 -29
All casualties 119,850 -9 -28

Fatalities

There were an estimated 1,390 reported road deaths in the year ending June 2021 which was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and included a total of 4 months of national lockdown (November 2020 and January to March 2021).

This represents a decrease of 11% compared to the same period in 2020. Both periods include national lockdowns which makes direct comparisons harder to draw. An even greater decrease of 22% is seen when comparing 2021 to the 3 year rolling average for 2017 to 2019 (prior to the pandemic).

The fatality rate per billion vehicle miles decreased by 6% compared to the year ending in June 2020, and decreased by 8% compared to the 3 rolling year average for 2017 to 2019, Therefore the decrease in fatalities is only partially associated with the reduction in road traffic (-5%) in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Fatal casualties in the year ending June 2021 saw a bigger reduction than injured casualties compared to both the year ending June 2020 and the 3 rolling year average for 2017 to 2019.

Serious and slight injuries

Our best estimate, after adjusting for changes in reporting by police, is that there were 23,140 seriously injured and 95,320 slightly injured casualties, a decrease of 6% and 9% compared to 2020, respectively.

All casualties

There were 119,850 casualties of all severities in the year ending June 2021, down by 9% from the same period in 2020.

Figures for January to June 2021

Half yearly casualty figures are prone to fluctuation as they are sensitive to changes made by in year data validation processes in different forces. In particular this year, the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on travel behaviour as well as the ability of some police forces to supply data. Therefore, the changes in half yearly casualty figures in this release should be interpreted with caution and they may not be indicative of an ongoing trend.

Between January and June 2021, an estimated 580 people were killed in reported road accidents. This is a decrease of 11% compared to the equivalent period of 2020 (649), and a decrease of 29% compared to the 3 rolling year average for 2017 to 2019 (809)

There was an increase in serious and slightly injured casualties over the same period. Total casualties were 8% higher than in the first half of 2020. However, there was a decrease of 29% compared to the first half year average for 2017 to 2019 (as shown in the Table 2).

Compared to January to June 2020:

  • motor traffic levels increased by 10%
  • the fatality rate per billion vehicle miles decreased by 19%
  • the overall casualty rate per billion vehicle miles remained consistent

Compared to the January to June average for 2017 to 2019:

  • motor traffic levels decreased by 18%
  • the fatality rate per billion vehicle miles decreased by 13%
  • the overall casualty rate per billion vehicle miles decreased by 14%

Chart 2: Estimated total casualties, all road traffic (billion vehicle miles), fatalities and KSI in Great Britain, January to June 2011 to 2021

Table 2: Estimated road casualties, by severity, Great Britain, January to June 2021

Severity 2021 % change from 2020 % change from (2017 to 2019 average)
Killed 580 -11 -29
Seriously injured (adjusted) 10,730 9 -23
KSI (adjusted) 11,310 8 -24
Slightly injured (adjusted) 44,080 8 -30
All casualties 55,390 8 -29

During the first half of 2021, the change in casualties compared to previous years continues to vary notably by month, with the largest reductions corresponding to the periods of COVID-19 lockdown in 2021 (January to March). More in-depth monthly analysis for 2020 can be found in our release the impact of lockdown on reported road casualties in Great Britain.

Casualties by severity and month

From January to March, the number of casualties decreased considerably, with an England lockdown beginning during January 2021. However, the number of casualties decreased less during the third lockdown which took effect from January to March 2021, compared to the first national lockdown (March to June 2020).

The percentage of casualties decreased most in January, with a fall of 45% compared to 2020, and a decrease of 48% compared to 2017 to 2019 average. Although the number of casualties increased for April, May and June compared to the same months in 2020 (169%, 64% and 38% higher, respectively), the increase is mainly due to lockdown restrictions in 2020. Figures were considerably lower than the equivalent months for the 2017 to 2019 average (15%, 18% and 16% lower, respectively).

This trend coincides with changes in traffic volumes. Road traffic decreased by 27% for January to March and increased by 71% for April to June compared to 2020, and decreased by 31% for January to March and fell by 8% for April to June TRA25 compared to 2017 to 2019 average.

The number of fatalities followed a similar pattern as casualties of all severities for January to June. However, a smaller reduction was observed for fatalities than overall casualties for each month where travel restrictions were implemented except for February.

Chart 3: Percentage change of casualties compared to 2017 to 2019 average, by month and severity, Great Britain, 2020 to 2021

Table 3: Percentage change of casualties compared to 2017 to 2019 average, by month and severity, Great Britain, 2021

Severity Jan Feb Mar Apr May June
Fatal -40 -54 -31 -11 -19 -17
Serious -41 -41 -26 -12 -17 -8
Slight -50 -47 -35 -16 -18 -18
All casualties -48 -46 -34 -15 -18 -16

Casualties by road user type and month

Casualties by road user type followed a similar trend during the first 6 months of 2021, with the lowest counts observed in January and February. However, the size of the reduction of casualties varied by road user type.

Compared to 2017 to 2019 baseline average for casualties of all severities:

  • there was a larger percentage reduction for pedestrians and bus occupants
  • a smaller reduction was observed for motor cyclists
  • pedal cyclists showed an increase in April and June
  • the percentage decrease was considerably greater in January and February for all road user types

Patterns for killed or seriously injured casualties are broadly similar (see RAS45006).

The department’s COVID-19 transport use statistics suggest that there has been an increase in pedal cyclist traffic volume over the period following the COVID-19 restrictions, while motor vehicle traffic has reduced.

A mid-year update on e-scooter accidents and casualties, which are not explicitly covered in this release, are available in the e-scooter factsheet.

A more detailed analysis of the trends, including a breakdown by road user type and severity, will be provided as part of the 2021 provisional annual statistics scheduled for publication in June 2022.

Chart 4: Estimated road casualties by month and road user type, Great Britain, 2020 to 2021

Table 4: Percentage change of casualties compared to 2017 to 2019 average, by month and road user type, Great Britain, 2021

Road user type Jan Feb Mar Apr May June
Bus and Coach Occupant -82 -75 -64 -51 -51 -53
Car Occupant -48 -49 -41 -23 -18 -22
Motor Cyclist -41 -36 -13 -3 -19 -6
Pedal Cyclist -40 -26 -4 15 -19 3
Pedestrian -59 -59 -44 -18 -19 -17

Casualties by age group and month

Trends in adult and child casualties were similar during the first 6 months of 2021, with the lowest counts observed in January and February.

In general, for casualties of all severities, there was a larger percentage reduction for children aged 16 or under and older casualties aged 60 and over and a smaller reduction for adults aged 17 to 59 during this period. Figures for killed or seriously injured casualties show broadly similar patterns (see RAS45006).

A more detailed breakdown by age group will be provided in the annual provisional results scheduled for publication in June 2022.

Chart 5: Percentage change of casualties compared to 2017 to 2019 average, by month and age group, Great Britain, 2020 to 2021

Casualties by police force and month

Most police forces areas show a broadly similar pattern, with a reduction in reported road casualties from January to February with a gradual increase following the relaxation of travel restrictions in April, May and June.

A table showing reported casualties by force and month has been included but should be interpreted with caution; differences in trends between forces may reflect completeness of data as well as genuine changes in the number of casualties. See RAS45013.

An estimation method based on police forces with complete data was used to impute figures for police forces with incomplete or missing data. Further detail is provided in the mid-year methodology note.

Some police forces with notable percentage changes compared the 2017 to 2019 average are shown in (Chart 6). Any police forces with partially incomplete data have not been included in Chart 6.

Chart 6: Percentage change of casualties compared to 2017 to 2019 average, by month and police force, Great Britain, 2020 to 2021

Strengths and weaknesses

Under-reporting

Comparison of road accident reports with death registrations shows that very few, if any, road accident fatalities are not reported to the police. However, it has long been known that a considerable proportion of non-fatal casualties are not known to the police, as hospital, survey and compensation claims data all indicate a higher number of casualties than suggested by police accident data.

While the total number of injuries is likely to be an underestimate, we have no reason to believe that the level of under reporting has changed over time so that the trends shown for 2021 are likely to reflect a genuine fall in the number of casualties. Comparisons to other available data sources are available up to 2020 in our coherence of sources of road accidents data report.

The data used as the basis for these statistics are therefore not a complete record of all personal injury road accidents, and this should be kept in mind when using and analysing the figures. However, police data on road accidents (STATS19), whilst not perfect, remain the most detailed, complete and reliable single source of information on road casualties covering the whole of Great Britain, in particular for monitoring trends over time.

Online self-reporting

Online self-reporting is part of a wider project for digital public contact called Single Online Home funded by the Home Office to allow people involved in road traffic accidents to report the collision to the police online should they choose to do so rather than having to physically report it at a police station.

The introduction of online self reporting by the Metropolitan Police Service at the end of 2016 and a few other forces in 2018 may have affected the number of non-fatal casualties reported in these forces and therefore impact the total for Great Britain. See our analysis of the impact of online self reporting for more details.

Provisional casualty rates

Casualty rates are based on provisional casualty and traffic estimates and are subject to revision at the end of the year. Provisional traffic estimates do not include pedal cycling estimates.

Background information

Publication timeline

Reported road casualties in Great Britain, provisional estimates, year ending June 2021 contains the first release of provisional headline accident and casualty figures for the first half of 2021.

This will be followed by the publication of the annual provisional report for 2021 scheduled for publication in June 2022.

These publications were previously published in PDF and this release has been published in HTML for the first time. Feedback from users regarding this format change is welcome by email to the road safety statistics team.

STATS19 review

Road accident data is collected from the police with the STATS19 collection. As with any collection system, it needs to be periodically reviewed to keep up with changes in technology, to make improvements to completeness and accuracy, and to reduce the reporting burden.

The STATS19 review started in autumn 2018 and has made a number of recommendations on changes to STATS19 going forward. These were based on evidence and detailed discussion with the review group.

Key recommendations can be found in the full STATS19 review report.

For further information please contact the STATS19 review team.

Data tables

Tables providing more details of casualties are available in the RAS45 data tables.

The full datasets used to produce this analysis can be downloaded from the open datasets. This data does not include any imputations made to produce these statistics.

Definitions

A full list of the definitions used in this publication can be found in our notes and definitions.

Information about the variables collected on the STATS19 form, historical publications and factsheets are available at road safety statistics.

National Statistics and pre-release access

National Statistics are produced to high professional standards as set out in the Code of Practice for Statistics. They undergo quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs.

Details of Ministers and officials who receive pre-release access to these statistics up to 24 hours before release can be found in our pre-release access list.

Feedback

We welcome further feedback on any aspects of the department’s road safety statistics including content, timing, and format, via email to the road safety statistics team.

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Contact details

Road safety statistics

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