New data shows continued decline in deaths and serious injuries on London’s roads during coronavirus pandemic
Transport for London (TfL) has published casualty statistics that show a continued decline in the number of people killed or seriously injured on London's roads in 2020, with a 21 per cent decrease over the year compared to 2019 data. Despite the decreases, 96 people were killed and 2,974 people suffered serious injuries on the capital's roads and continued action is needed to achieve the Mayor's Vision Zero goal of eliminating death and serious injury from the transport network.
Last year saw significant changes to people's travel habits as the capital was placed under coronavirus restrictions and people made fewer public transport journeys in line with Government advice. Many more people walked or cycled for their journeys compared to 2019, with an estimated 46 per cent increase in the number of kilometres cycled compared to 2019. TfL has worked closely with the boroughs since the start of the pandemic to create the extra space needed for people to walk and cycle safely. While there was an 12 per cent increase in the number of people killed or seriously injured cycling, the estimated overall risk to people cycling decreased, with six deaths recorded per billion kilometres cycled, compared to eight in 2019. The estimated risk of being killed or seriously injured while cycling fell by 24 per cent over the year. Fewer people were also killed while walking in 2020, with a 34 per cent reduction compared to 2019 data. More comprehensive data of the estimated injury risk across all transport modes will be available later in the year, once journey data for 2020 has been published.
Though the risk to people cycling has decreased, the number of people killed and seriously injured on London's roads remains unacceptable. Motorcyclists continued to be disproportionately involved in collisions resulting in fatal and serious injuries to themselves and to others, especially people walking. Motorcyclist deaths remained at the same number (31) from 2019 to 2020 and people riding motorcycles represented a quarter (25 per cent) of all people killed and seriously injured on the roads. TfL has recently launched a campaign to urge riders and drivers to watch out for each other with the aim of tackling the high numbers of people involved in these collisions.
Cars continued to be the main vehicle type involved with collisions in 2020, highlighting the risks posed to Londoners and the capital by a car-led recovery from the pandemic. Cars were involved with 66 per cent of all collisions resulting in death or injury, up from 62 per cent in 2019. Speeding remains the biggest risk to road users and the Met Police recorded increases in traffic speeds during lockdowns in 2020, dealing with 270,000 speeding drivers over the year with 160mph detected as the highest speed. Over the last year, the TfL and MPS funded Roads and Transport Policing Command (RTPC) at the Metropolitan Police Service has intensified patrols on 20mph and 30mph roads in response to increases in speeding delivering a 70 per cent increase in the number of drivers caught for speeding on London's roads. The number of drivers caught by speed cameras has also increased by 50 per cent as TfL and the MPS work together to eliminate the danger caused by excessive speeding.
The number of people killed or seriously injured in or by a bus fell by 37 per cent between 2019 and 2020 to the lowest number on record. This means that the number of people killed or seriously injured by or on a bus in London has fallen by 78 per cent against the 2005-09 baseline, exceeding TfL's Vision Zero goal of a 70 per cent reduction by 2022. TfL has continued work on its Bus Safety Programme and all new buses joining the fleet are now Bus Safety Standard 2019 compliant. This means they are fitted with Intelligent Speed Assistance, which ensures that buses are complying with the speed limit. They are also fitted with blind spot mirrors or camera monitoring systems to improve visibility of vulnerable road users and with acoustic vehicle alerting systems to alert road users of their presence. The first Bus Safety Standard 2021 vehicles will be on street later this summer, with camera monitoring systems as standard and occupant friendly interiors designed to reduce the severity of customer injuries.
TfL continues to work on a number of major programmes to make London's roads and the vehicles using them safer. TfL's world-first Direct Vision Standard, which reduces lethal blind spots on lorries, is already helping to save lives and prevent life-changing injuries. The scheme requires owners of Heavy Good Vehicles (HGVs) weighing more than 12 tonnes to apply for a free permit that assigns vehicles a star rating based on how much the driver can see directly through their cab windows in order to be able to drive in London. Since its introduction, more than 70,000 HGVs have had safe systems fitted, improving protection for people walking, cycling or riding e-scooters or motorcycles and saving lives.
In addition to the record-breaking growth seen in London's cycle network over the past five years, with 260km of safer, high-quality cycle routes delivered by TfL and the boroughs, TfL has continued to work on its Safer Junctions programme to make life-saving changes at some of the capital's most dangerous and intimidating junctions. To date, TfL has completed work at a total of 42 junctions, with construction expected to start on more schemes later this year, including Battersea Bridge/Cheyne Walk and York Road roundabout.
Speed limits have also been reduced to 20mph on a number of TfL roads across the capital. All TfL roads in the central London congestion charging zone are now 20mph, with 15km of roads in total reduced to 20mph in 2020 alone. TfL will begin a consultation next month into reducing the speed limit to 20mph on the remaining TfL roads in Westminster and to introduce a permanent 30mph speed limit on the A40 Westway in Westminster. By March 2022, TfL plans to lower the speed limit on a further 25km of its road network across London where road danger risk is highest.
Will Norman, London's Walking & Cycling Commissioner, said: "Walking and cycling has boomed during the pandemic, and the work we're doing to make London's roads safer is having an effect, with the lowest number of road deaths in London on record last year. However, any tragic death from a collision is one too many, and there is still an unacceptable risk for many road users, particularly from cars. This highlights the importance of a green, sustainable recovery from the pandemic. We will continue to work with TfL, the police and the boroughs to better embed our Vision Zero strategy into every decision we make, making it easier and safer for people to walk and cycle around our city."
Lilli Matson, TfL's Chief Safety Health and Environment Officer, said: "Last year saw the lowest number of road deaths in London on record, but we know that we cannot slow down on our Vision Zero goal of eliminating death and serious injury entirely. While it is encouraging to see the risks to some of our most vulnerable road users fall, including people walking and cycling, we know that risks for others including people riding motorcycles remain far too high. We're calling on everyone across London to continue to look out for each other on the roads, as safe behaviours can save countless lives and prevent people in communities across London from experiencing the unnecessary suffering that collisions on our roads cause."
Chief Superintendent Simon Ovens from the Met's Roads and Transport Policing Command, said: "Every life lost on London's road network is a tragedy and only cements our action to achieve the Mayor of London's Vision Zero aim of eliminating death and serious injury. Every day, officers from the Met's Roads and Transport Policing Command are taking action to root out dangerous or reckless behaviour, which could result in a life being lost.
"Speeding continues to be the most significant contributor to deaths or serious injuries on roads. During the early stages of the pandemic, we observed some frankly shocking cases of speeding on London's roads. In response we stepped up our enforcement activity and will continue to work with TfL and local authorities across London to further reduce speeding."
Alex Close, Head of Public Affairs for Brake, said: "We fully support the Mayor's Office and Transport for London's commitment to improving road safety, including investment in safe cycling routes and better enforcement. We're glad to see that progress is being made in reducing deaths and serious injuries, while more people have the confidence to walk and cycle around our capital city.
"Every casualty is one too many, and Brake will continue to support Transport for London to achieve our joint vision of zero deaths and serious injuries on our roads."
Notes to editors
The 2020 London Collision Factsheet and TfL's Road Danger Reduction dashboard are available here