Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has urged everyone to take personal responsibility as they use the roads.
Mr Durkan made his comments as he reflected on the loss of life on Northern Ireland’s roads in 2015. “As the year draws to a close, we remember that 74 people have lost their lives since this time last year.
“I offer my sympathy to those who have lost loved ones and those who are suffering serious injuries through road tragedy in 2015. I know that the pain of such a loss is deeply felt by family, friends and the wider community for a long time.”
Road traffic collisions are sudden, traumatic events, occurring in a moment but with consequences enduring for a lifetime.
The Minister said: “The number of road fatalities and serious injuries over the past year is a serious concern. While five fewer people have died on our roads than last year, every death is tragic and will have brought enormous suffering. I say again today, any death is one too many, let’s make 2016 a better year on our roads.”
“I am personally committed to making road safety a priority. I will continue to work with my Executive colleagues, the PSNI, the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and the Ambulance Service to improve road safety.
“We will continue to focus on problem areas, such as drink driving, speeding, carelessness and inattention; and on groups which are over-represented in the casualty figures. These are a key focus of the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill which is currently going through the Assembly. The bill includes a package of measures to tackle those who choose to drink and drive, to reform the learner and restricted driver schemes and to introduce a system of Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL).
“I have just launched an anti drink drive social media campaign in the run-up to the Christmas season and I have also commissioned a second social media campaign specifically addressing mobile phone use while driving, along with a further campaign challenging young driver distraction, both of which will be launched in the coming months.”
Almost all casualties on our roads are caused by poor road user behaviour and are therefore preventable. Mr Durkan concluded: “Together, it is our actions as road users that make a difference. It is each of us who can save lives, it is each of us who can protect ourselves and others from death and serious injury as we share the road – by slowing down, by always paying attention, reading the road and anticipating the actions of other road users, never driving having consumed drink or drugs, ignoring the mobile phone and always wearing your seatbelt, no matter how short the journey.
“I remain committed to doing all that I can to prevent the pointless tragedies on our roads. I call on everyone to join me in making Road Safety a personal New Years’ resolution.”
Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said, “While our preliminary figures indicate that 74 people have been killed on the roads in Northern Ireland, which is five less than 2014, one death on the roads is one too many.
“As we start the New Year, there are families and communities across Northern Ireland coping with the loss of loved ones who were killed in road traffic collisions. For others involved in serious collisions, it can mean learning to cope with life changing injuries.
“Road safety will continue to be a key priority for police, but the reality is that many collisions can be avoided. We must all take personal responsibility for our actions. Slow down. Pay greater attention to your surroundings. Always wear a seatbelt and NEVER ever drive after drinking or taking drugs.”