The number of people killed on Britain’s roads increased by 7% last year as coronavirus restrictions eased, new figures suggest.

Provisional Department for Transport (DfT) statistics indicate that around 1,560 fatalities were recorded in 2021, up from 1,460 in the previous year.

For casualties of all severities, the year-on-year increase was 11%.

Motoring groups responded to the figures by calling for new measures to boost road safety.

The DfT stressed that the number of deaths in 2021 was 12% below the pre-pandemic average between 2017 and 2019, while total casualties were down 21%.

However, fatalities exceeded pre-virus levels between July and September last year.

AA head of roads policy Jack Cousens said: “As the lockdowns eased, we were hopeful that the reduction seen in the 2020 road casualty statistics could be maintained for longer, but sadly that wasn’t the case.

“The one glimmer of hope is that the total number of casualties last year remains lower than pre-pandemic levels, so we need that to be the turning point in order to make our roads as safe as possible.”

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “It’s disappointing to see collision numbers rise again last year as the UK eased itself out of lockdown restrictions after a dip in 2020.

“Summer 2021 in particular appears to show an above-average number of fatalities on our roads.

“RAC research suggests there is a huge level of concern among drivers about the standard of driving on our roads, so we urge the Government to consider reintroducing road safety targets.

“They should also look at whether the long-term decline in full-time road traffic police officers has led to a worsening in driver behaviour and an increase in casualties as a result.

“We also once again call on the Government to look at how camera-based technology could support the police in enforcing the ban on handheld mobile phone use while driving.”

A DfT spokesman said: “Any fatality on our roads is a tragedy and our sympathies remain with anyone who has lost a loved one, however the figures are still below pre-pandemic levels.

“Road safety is a top priority and that is why we have banned any use of handheld mobile phones whilst driving and consulted on establishing a dedicated body to investigate the causes of road traffic collisions.”