Environment Minister Mark H Durkan today launched Road Safety Week at RADAR (Belfast’s Risk Avoidance and Danger Awareness Resource).
The Minister said: “This week is Road Safety Week, but every week should be road safety week, for all of us.
“Road safety is an all year round challenge for every single road user. It is a continuous challenge and road deaths do not discriminate. All road users are vulnerable during every journey. We must also remember that the majority of deaths are due to something that we as individuals all have the power to control by eliminating high risk behaviours.”
During Road Safety Week, DOE with partner agencies including the PSNI, NI Fire and Rescue Service and the Ambulance Service will work to raise awareness of how vulnerable we all are on the road.
Alan Walmsley, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service said: “Firefighters attend road traffic collisions every day and so far in 2015 we have attended 629* collisions and have rescued 488* people trapped in vehicles, many of whom are left with life changing injuries. Tragically there are far too many people whom we cannot rescue and the impact of their loss is felt every day by the families left behind. We all need to think road safety every time we get behind the wheel not just during Road Safety Week but every single day.”
“We’re bringing our hard hitting road traffic collision rescue demonstrations to towns across Northern Ireland to show young people just how quickly lives can be destroyed by irresponsible driving. Our message to drivers of all ages is to Slow Down, Pay Attention, Wear a Seatbelt and Never Drink/Take Drugs or use a Mobile Phone and Drive”.
At the launch event, there were workshops for young drivers and a demonstration of what happens when the emergency services attend the scene of crash. The launch was held at RADAR, which is Northern Ireland’s first fully interactive, safety and life skills education centre.
Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said: “One death on the roads is one too many. When you consider that many, if not the majority of deaths and serious injuries caused by collisions could have been avoided, it’s an appalling waste of life.
“Everyone shares the responsibility for road safety. As the demonstration illustrated today, one moment of inattention, one inappropriate decision can have life changing implications. Our road safety message is simple. Drivers and riders need to slow down, pay greater attention to their surroundings. NEVER ever drive or ride a motorbike after drinking or taking drugs, and whether a driver or passenger, always wear a seatbelt.
“With the arrival of winter weather and longer hours of darkness, road users need to make extra effort to look out for children, pedestrians and cyclists and modify their driving to cope with the conditions. Pedestrians and cyclists should wear bright clothing, reflective jackets or armbands where possible to ensure they can be seen.”
The Minister added: “Over the last few decades, road deaths have steadily declined. However, we must not be complacent. Normality can turn into tragedy in one instant. To date in 2015, 63 people have lost their lives on our roads. That is 63 families and communities whose lives have been utterly and irreversibly devastated.
“I appeal to everyone to always pay attention, slow down, wear your seatbelt and to never drive when impaired, either by fatigue, drink or drugs. As we move into winter, snow, ice and fog can make driving increasingly dangerous. When weather conditions are this unpredictable, we all face extra demands on our vehicle and driving skills. But with a little common sense, these dangers can be kept to a minimum. Be prepared for treacherous roads and slow down to adjust to the conditions.
“My Department is fully committed to improving safety for all road users. I firmly believe that we can make a journey on our roads as safe as anywhere in the world. As road users, we each have a role to play in preventing deaths and injuries on our roads.
“I encourage that all road users commit to be the best road user they can be by pledging at http://www.sharetheroadtozero.com/“