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Road deaths in Scotland at their highest since 2016

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By Rachel Rough and Kathryn Nisbet


Published 13 November 2023


Transport Scotland has recently published statistics confirming 173 people were killed in road collisions in Scotland in 2022. This is 32 more than in 2021 and represents a 23% increase, being the highest number of fatalities for the last 7 years.
There was a total of 5,621 casualties of all severities reported, which is 506 (10%) more than in 2021. Of this number 1,776 were serious injuries, an increase of 10% on the previous year.

Transport Scotland points out that the trend has been generally downwards over time, from a figure of 4,739 serious injuries in 2004 to 1,776 in 2022. It does seem clear, however, that in 2021 and 2022 there has been a distinct "uptick".

The Scottish Government set itself a target of reducing the recorded fatalities on Scotland's roads by half from a baseline figure of 174, taking the average of those killed between 2014 and 2018. The statistics show that the direction of travel is away from that target at present.

We have seen an increase in cases involving serious or fatal motor casualties over the past couple of years, bearing out the statistical evidence. It is not clear what has caused this. Anecdotal evidence would have us believe that it may have something to do with the return to a pre-covid level of road use and a perceived coincidental or consequential decrease in the standard of driving. In its2022 Report on Motoring, the RAC surveyed 3,102 drivers and found that 31% were concerned about the poor standard of other motorists' driving.

The data indicates that car users account for the majority of the fatalities, with pedal cyclist fatalities actually dropping. This is somewhat surprising given the apparent increase in people taking up road cycling post-covid.

So far as insurers are concerned it would not be unreasonable to anticipate a 23% increase in fatal claims and a 10% increase in serious injury claims from their 2022 book of business, which will clearly have implications in terms of claims volumes and settlements across the board. Should the current trend for increasing numbers of fatal accidents and accidents causing serious injures continue, this will have a wider reaching impact on overall indemnity spend in Scottish claims which, in turn, will almost inevitably mean higher insurance premiums.

It remains to be seen whether this trend will continue into 2023, but given the continuing increase in claim numbers overall, it appears that the Scottish Government continues to face real challenges in achieving its target, which will almost certainly have ongoing implications for insurers going forward.

For more information or advice, please contact one of our experts in ourComplex Injury Team.