04/01/2011

North's Lowest Road Death Revealed

The Stormont Minister responsible for road safety has warned that good news over the number of crash deaths could have a hidden danger.

NI Environment Minister Edwin Poots said that complacency could become the biggest threat as he revealed today that the number of road deaths in Northern Ireland during last year was the lowest since records began in 1931.

A total of 55 people were killed on NI's roads in 2010, according to provisional figures released today by PSNI.

This is 60 people less than in 2009, equating to an unprecedented fall of over 50% in fatalities and over 20% in serious injuries.

The Minister said: "The figures released today are a significant milestone for road safety here and the reduction is very welcome.

"But it is with extreme caution that we note the number of lives saved in 2010," he said.

"It is difficult to take pleasure from this record low when 55 people didn't get the chance to fulfil their ambitions.

"The death of each one is tragic and will have brought enormous suffering to their families and friends. Already just days into 2011, another family is suffering after a death on our roads," he said, commenting on the tragic north Antrim death on New Year's Day when a car left the road and ended up underwater.

However, there is no denying the reduction as a decrease of around 50% or more, includes a reduction in the number of child deaths from four in 2009 to two in 2010.

In 2000, 171 people were killed and over the past decade this has steadily declined to 107 in 2008 - which was the lowest ever on record to that point.

Mr Poots added: "My Department took forward a number of key road safety activities in the past year which have contributed to the overall casualty reduction.

"It is difficult to measure each individual contribution that one area makes to road safety. There are a broad range of interventions and factors that can impact upon road safety and those activities are often interconnected.

"We will persist with those activities that have brought us to the position where, even before this year, we were achieving the best figures on record," he promised noting that the Department will continue working in partnership with the DRD's Roads Service, the PSNI, the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and Ambulance Service, delivering a programme of road safety education, engineering and enforcement initiatives.

The Minister said: "Road Safety is my greatest priority and I am committed to ensuring that everything possible is done to prevent further deaths and serious injuries during 2011.

"Even one is one life too many. There is a greater prize to be had - zero road casualties.

"Complacency poses an enormous threat to road users - so we must not let our guard down. I continue to urge road users to pay attention, expect the unexpected, slow down, always wear your seatbelt and never ever drink and drive."

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland said: "55 people have been killed on the roads in 2010 and many more seriously injured. While these figures are half that of the previous year, behind each figure there are families, friends and communities which have been devastated, so we can never be complacent on this issue.

"The stark reality is that the majority of road traffic collisions are preventable. Excessive speed for the conditions is still the most common single cause of fatal and serious injuries on roads in Northern Ireland, followed by the consumption of alcohol or drugs by drivers or riders and inattention or diverted attention.

"We make absolutely no apology for robustly targeting dangerous and inappropriate driving and need public support to reinforce the road safety message.

"We all have a role to play in preventing deaths and injuries on our roads. All we ask is that drivers slow down, do not drive after drinking or taking drugs, wear a seatbelt and drive with greater care and attention," the senior officer said.

(BMcC/GK)

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