Ministers are missing targets to slash the number of road deaths by half at the end of the decade - as it emerged the number of car user fatalities nearly doubled in a year.

Some 174 people died on Scotland's roads in accidents in 2022 - nearly 25% (33) more than in 2021 and the highest since 2016.

But that is around 30% higher than what was expected to be registered to meet a target to slash deaths on the road to just 87 by 2030, it can be revealed.

The death toll is now back at the 2014-2018 average that was the starting point for the Scottish Government's bid to cut the number of road fatalities.

And it has emerged that some 101 of those that were killed in crashes on Scotland's roads in 2022 were car users - 46 more than in the previous year.

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There were a further 1759 serious casualties on the roads last year, 145 more than the previous year.


Transport Scotland's 2021 progress chart.

It is a blow to the Scottish Government's casualty reduction targets set in 2021 to see a 50% cut in both the numbers that are killed and seriously injured by the end of the decade.

Ministers set the vision to have the "best road safety performance in the world" by the end of the decade - and an "ambitious" long term goal where no-one is seriously injured or killed on roads by 2050.

The road safety framework, which came with the motto 'Together, making Scotland's roads safer' was launched by then transport secretary Michael Matheson who said the embedding of a 'Safe System' will "require political leadership, strategic clarity and decisive action, as well as ownership by all of us – elected officials, transport professionals and citizens".

The Safe System initiatives included a range of measures including better enforcement of speeding through new technology, as well as awareness campaigns and a road safety  fund to help authorities help meet the targets.

The Scottish Government said its 2023-24 budget includes over £31 million for road safety which has been allocated to areas such as a Trunk Road Casualty Reduction Programme, the Road Safety Improvement Fund, a Safety Camera Programme and work being carried out to expand 20 mph areas in communities across Scotland.

But Neil Greig, director of policy and research with road safety charity IAM Roadsmart said the Scottish Government was "trying to put a positive spin on road death numbers that are racing back up to pre-Covid levels and the ‘opportunity’ of the last few years of lower numbers appears to have been lost".

HeraldScotland: Neil Greig, director of policy and research, at the Institute for Advanced Motorists

He said: "Road deaths have been going down slowly in Scotland for the last decade but it is vital that continued investment is made in road safety to ensure we don’t return to the higher numbers of the last century.

"IAM RoadSmart’s main concern is the lack of money for local council road safety schemes, pothole repairs and police enforcement. In particular the Scottish government should urgently address the ongoing delay in delivering speed awareness courses in Scotland and setting up an easy dash cam reporting portal for road users. Both of these have been shown to work really well south of the border."

Last month the tragic deaths of cyclists and pedestrians on Glasgow streets led the police and council officers to establish a road safety working group.

It came after the death of French cyclist Emma Newman, 22, who died after a collision involving a lorry on the Broomielaw in January.

Nigerian student Chinenye Vera Okonkwo, 33, passed away following a crash involving two cars in the city centre on St Vincent Street in February.

And a 64-year-old woman was critically injured after a collision involving a car on Elmbank Street in February. She died weeks later in hospital on March 1.

According to Glasgow City Council's convener for neighbourhood services and assets Ruairi Kelly, a working group or round-table discussion on road safety was to be established in conjunction with the Safe Glasgow Partnership and Police Scotland with recommendations arising from it being used to assist or form a plan of action.


Kevin Stewart, the transport minister said:  "Any increase in road deaths and injuries is deeply concerning. Behind every number is a loved one who is now tragically no longer with us or a life changed forever.

"To see lives cut short in this way is deeply unfair and I refuse to accept that road casualties are in some way inevitable – they are avoidable and can be stopped. One death on our roads is simply one too many.

“Road safety remains an absolute priority for this government and I’m determined that we continue to make investments which support our Road Safety Framework to 2030...

"We’re investing record amounts in active travel this year to make walking, wheeling and cycling easier and safer across the country, coupled with investment in public transport to support a shift away from private car use and towards sustainable transport. Realising our ambition of reducing car kilometres by 20% by 2030 will also make our roads safer while at the same time protecting our environment."