The Northern Ireland Road Safety Strategy (NIRSS) to 2020 Annual Statistical Report, 2021 has been published today

Date published: 30 September 2021

The NIRSS to 2020 annual statistics are now available. These data provide the finalised National Statistics (NS) which track the 2020 position against the four targets and various key performance indicators contained in the Strategy.

Statistical press release

The publication is available on the ASRB website at:

Northern Ireland Road Safety Strategy to 2020 Annual Statistical Report 2021

Key Points

In 2020

  • Lockdown measures in relation to Covid-19 were introduced on 23rd March 2020. The reduction in collisions and casualties should be seen in the context of overall traffic volumes, which were estimated to have more than halved at the outset of lockdown and continued to show reductions throughout 2020.There were 56 fatalities in road traffic collisions. This represents a reduction of 55% from the 2004-2008 Strategy baseline figure (126), and no change from 2019.  There has been a relative levelling off in the number of fatalities in the last three years.
  • There were 596 people seriously injured (SI) in road traffic collisions which is 23% less than the number recorded in 2019 and 46% less than the baseline figure of 1,111. SI numbers have fallen considerably since the baseline and the annual percentage decrease between 2019 and 2020 (-23%) was the largest decrease in the series. The 2020 target of 611 or fewer SIs was achieved.
  • There were 55 children (aged 0 to 15) killed or seriously injured (KSIs) in road traffic collisions – sixteen fewer than in 2019. This represents a reduction of 57% from the baseline figure (128) and a decrease of 23% over the year. The 2020 target of 58 or fewer child KSIs was achieved.
  • There were 128 young people (aged 16 to 24) KSIs in road traffic collisions, which was 26% less than the number recorded in 2019 and 65% below the baseline of 366. This is the lowest recorded since the strategy began and below the target of 165.
  • Over the three year period 2018-2020, novice drivers (new drivers within two years of passing their ‘category B’ driving test) were involved in road traffic collisions that resulted in the death or serious injury of, on average, 98 people each year. This represents a 9% decrease from the 108 average number of KSIs recorded during the 2017-2019 period and is 54% below the 2008-2010 baseline average of 214 KSIs per annum.
  • The greatest proportion of these 98 KSI casualties (30%) were from collisions that involved a driver within six months of passing their test.  This compares with 25% from collisions involving drivers within 7-12 months, 21% from collisions involving drivers within 13-18 months, and 23% from collisions involving drivers within 19-24 months of passing their test. This highlights the increased risk associated with new drivers in the first six months after passing their driving test.
  • In 2020, just under two-thirds (65%) of vehicles exceeded the speed limits on built-up roads (all road types up to 40mph) under free-running conditions (11pm-7am). 
  • On non-built-up roads, the proportion of vehicles exceeding the speed limits, under free-running conditions, was greatest on dual carriageways (51%), followed by motorways (24%) and single carriageways above 40mph (23%). 
  • The corresponding non-compliance rates during the hours of 7am-11pm, when most travelling occurs and congestion serves to dampen vehicle speeds are: 37% on built-up roads, 34% on dual carriageways, 21% on motorways and 10% on single carriageways above 40mph.
  • Car users had the lowest rate of KSIs per kilometres travelled (2 KSIs per 100 million kilometres travelled by car or van) compared to other road user groups, and hence are considered at less risk. Motorcyclists had the greatest rate (251 motorcycle KSIs per 100 million kilometres travelled by motorcycle), with the rates for pedal cyclists (47 pedal cycle KSIs per 100 million kilometres cycled) and pedestrians (24 pedestrian KSIs per 100 million kilometres walked) being in between.
  • People over the age of 70 had 28 KSIs per 100,000 population. This rate is 44% below that recorded in 2019 and is 44% below the baseline figure of 50. The rate recorded in 2020 is the lowest rate recorded in the series.
  • There were 41 people killed in collisions on rural roads. The numbers recorded in 2020 are up 21% on 2019 (34) but, are the same as the level recorded in 2017. Fatalities on rural roads are now 56% below the baseline figure of 92.
  • There were seven people killed in road traffic collisions where alcohol or drugs was attributed.  This is five fewer than was recorded in 2019 and is the lowest number recorded in the series.  The number in 2020 is 75% below the baseline level of 28.
  • There were 161 KSIs resulting from collisions involving drivers under the age of 25.  This is a 31% decrease from the number recorded in 2019 (233). The numbers in 2020 are 62% below the baseline number (425) and are the lowest recorded in the series.
  • The most common reason cited for feeling unsafe when walking by the road was that there was no footpath, with 37% of all Travel Survey  respondents giving this answer. Approximately a quarter said that heavy traffic, traffic travelling above the speed limit and motorists driving without consideration made them feel unsafe (all with similar percentages of 28%, 27% and 26% respectively).
  • More than half of respondents (56%) felt unsafe when cycling due to heavy traffic, whilst 49% felt unsafe because of motorists driving without consideration of cyclists.

Notes to editors: 

The Northern Ireland’s Road Safety Strategy (NIRSS) to 2020 Annual Statistical Report, 2021 is the tenth publication in the lifetime of the reporting on the targets and KPIs set out in the Road Safety Strategy to 2020. Further information on the Strategy is available at: Northern Ireland Road Safety Strategy until 2020

  1. The report is typically based on the period 1 January to 31 December 2020. The report monitors the progress in 2020 of the targets and key performance indicators (KPIs) set out in the NIRSS.  The targets and indicators are measured against a baseline of the 2004-2008 average figures (unless otherwise stated).
  2. There are four principal targets and a suite of twenty key performance indicators (KPIs) which currently underpin the road safety strategy.  Many of the indicators are calculated as a rate in order to properly take account of the changing level of exposure, and hence risk, attached to the subject group.  
  3. This report details progress to date on the four key targets and across the strategy’s KPIs.  A number of the indicators, when reported by single year, show a lot of volatility. In these cases an additional figure reporting on a five year rolling average (or smoothed trend) has been included to give a clearer indication of which direction the underlying trend is moving.
  4. With regards to the speeding KPI, free-running speed (as recorded between 11pm to 7am) is considered to be the speed at which vehicles will travel when they are unimpeded by other vehicles. It is considered a truer reflection of a motorist’s speeding behavior and, in the absence of congestion, would generally be higher than a 24 hour or daytime speeding rate. For further information on this, and all other indicator specifications and definitions, please see the Indicator Guidance Booklet: Road Safety Strategy to 2020 Indicator Guidance Booklet
  5. Following an independent assessment by the UK Statistics Authority, the report received National Statistics accreditation in September 2016, demonstrating that it meets the highest standards of trustworthiness, quality and public value. Last year the report underwent a compliance check which confirmed that these statistics should continue to be designated as National Statistics.
  6. Electronic copies of the Northern Ireland’s Road Safety Strategy (NIRSS) to 2020 Annual Statistical Report are available at:
  1. Additional Information

For more information relating to this publication, including additional analysis, breakdowns of data, or alternative formats please contact:

Analysis, Statistics and Research Branch,
Room 4.13c,
Clarence Court,
10 - 18 Adelaide Street,
Town Parks
BT2 8GB     
  1. All media queries should be directed to the Department for Infrastructure Press Office at:
  2. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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