North road deaths rise following years of steady declines
Totals match trends in Republic and prompt new pledge to counter ‘complacency’
Stormont environment minister Mark Durkan said he would seek Executive approval for new measures to fight drink-driving and to counter the predominance of young and male drivers in the death tally.
The death toll on roads in Northern Ireland has risen, with 56 losing their lives. The total is eight more than the figure for 2012 which was the lowest on record.
The trend matches that in the Republic where 190 people lost their lives on the roads last year, a rise of 28.
This meant that 246 people in all died on Irish roads last year.
Commenting on the provisional figures produced by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Stormont environment minister Mark Durkan called on road users to combat “complacency” and to ensure that 2014 is a safer year.
He said he would seek Executive approval for new measures to fight drink-driving and to counter the predominance of young and male drivers in the death tally.
Addressing the upward trend in the figures after years of road safety improvements, Mr Durkan said: “Complacency poses an enormous threat to these achievements. The cruel reality of road death is that normal, everyday life can turn to tragedy in a split second.
“Collectively, the ability to reduce road casualties lies within each of us. We all have a personal responsibility; to ourselves, to other road users and to families across Northern Ireland. It is the actions of road users that cause the vast majority of collisions and resulting casualties,” he added.
Outlining the Executive’s ambition of zero fatalities, Mr Durkan said: “I intend to take further actions in 2014, working with road safety partners, to tackle causes of deaths and serious injuries.
“These will include, subject to Executive approval, introduction of the Road Traffic Amendment Bill to take further steps to tackle those who choose to drink and drive, and to address the tragic over-representation of young people in road death statistics.”
Road fatality statistics have been recorded in Northern Ireland since 1931 when there were 114 road deaths. The total increased steadily until 1972 when 372 people died on the roads.
The tally fell gradually during over the following 20 years or so before levelling off at around a total of 155 deaths per year during the 1990s.
Further decreases were recorded from then onwards but particularly during the 2000s dropping from 148 fatalities in 2001 to 115 in 2009 before the numbers fell dramatically to 55 in 2010. There were 59 fatalities in 2011 and the lowest figure of 48 deaths was recorded in 2012.
PSNI Supt David Moore said: “If everyone slowed down, did not drive after drinking or taking drugs, wore a seatbelt and drove with greater care and attention then more people would live. It really is that simple.”