Road deaths and injuries across the north and north-east significantly dropped last year while traffic virtually disappeared due to the Covid pandemic.
Annual statistics from Transport Scotland have revealed the number accidents fell by about 40% in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray and about 36% in the Highlands.
Campaigners have welcomed the sharp decreases but accepted the figures are likely “distorted” due to the impact of Covid.
How many road accidents have there been?
‘Statistics distorted by Covid’
Transport Scotland estimates the number of vehicles using the country’s roads in 2020 fell to about 25% of 2019’s levels.
The empty carriageways due to Covid are expected to be the main cause for road collisions and injuries to have significantly dropped across the north and north-east.
Ewan Wallace, Aberdeenshire Council’s head of transportation who is also chairman of Road Safety North East Scotland, welcomed the statistics but warned traffic is now returning to pre-pandemic levels.
He said: “We will have to acknowledge that 2020 was likely a unique year which has temporarily distorted – ironically in a positive way given the negative backdrop of Covid – the general direction of local road safety performance.
“Sadly, even in the past few weeks, we have seen a number of serious and fatal road traffic collisions on north east roads and our ongoing partnership work to promote the various strands of road safety will continue.”
Aim to reach zero road deaths
The Scottish Government has ambitions to reduce road deaths to zero within the next decade.
Investment in speed cameras, segregated travel for bikes and pedestrians and other road improvements is planned to reach the aim.
Transport minister Graeme Dey said: “Whilst it is no surprise that with fewer car trips over the lockdown period, we’re seeing fewer road casualties – prior to the pandemic road casualties in Scotland had been showing a clear, ongoing reduction.
“Improving road safety further remains a priority for the Scottish Government.
“Our road safety partners and I know that one death on Scotland’s roads is one too many.
“The fact we’ve met all our casualty reductions targets, putting us among the best performing European countries, means very little to those who have sadly lost friends and love ones in tragic circumstances.”