Reduced traffic due to the Covid crisis "greatly influenced” a 35 per cent reduction in total casualties and 14 per cent cut in deaths, Transport Scotland reported in provisional figures for 2020 published today.
Casualty numbers were down from 7,718 to 4,992, the lowest since records began in 1950, while deaths were reduced from 166 to 142.
However, the deaths figure was only three fewer than in 2017.
Those killed included 72 in cars, 34 pedestrians, 16 on motorcycles and 11 on cycles, but none on buses or coaches.
The number of children killed increased from two to six, half of them pedestrians.
However, Transport Scotland said the long-term trend was down.
There was a 2 per cent increase in cycle casualties, but it came as cycling increased by 61 per cent.
Traffic on Scotland’s roads is estimated to have been 23 per cent lower last year than in 2019.
Road deaths peaked in 1969 when 892 people were killed and casualties totalled around 32,000.
Mr 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."
He said Scotland was meeting all its casualty reductions targets, which put it among the best-performing European countries.
However, the minister stressed: “That means very little to those who have sadly lost friends and love ones in tragic circumstances.
“We’re continuing to invest in speed cameras, in segregated active travel [walking, cycling and wheeling] infrastructure, in road improvements and in educational programmes.
"Road deaths are not an inevitability and they should not be expected to happen.
"We are committed to working with our partners to secure the ultimate vision established in Scotland’s Road Safety Framework to 2030 – Vision Zero – where no one is killed on our roads.”
Final figures for 2020 are due to be published in October.