05/01/2006

Road death figures are lowest in 50 years

Figures released today by the Department of the Environment have revealed that road deaths in Northern Ireland last year were at the lowest level in 50 years.

The total number of road deaths in 2005 totalled 136, the lowest number since 1952 when 133 people lost their lives at at time when there was one eighth of the number of vehicles on the road.

Although still an alarmingly high number of fatalities, it is less than that of 2004 when 148 people died on the roads.

Environment Minister Jeff Rooker said: "The start of another new year is an optimistic time for many people as they look back on what they achieved in the old year and forward to new goals and plans for the year ahead. Sadly, this optimism will not be shared by many families in Northern Ireland who are having to live with the pain of losing loved ones on our roads. At the start of a New Year, we have the opportunity to take stock of what has been achieved in improving road safety and to look forward to the future."

Lord Rooker suggested that there is still a lot more that needs to be done despite the fall in the death toll on the roads.

"The figures highlight an encouraging reduction in the number of passenger and motorcyclist fatalities but of the 136 killed on the roads in 2005 - almost 70% were drivers and pedestrians.

"I appeal to all road users to play a personal part in reducing the number of fatalities and serious injuries on our roads during 2006. Let us all make this a New Year resolution. If we all accept this personal responsibility then together we will save lives."

Superintendent Brian Kee, Head of the Police Service's Road Policing Development Branch said: “I am pleased that there has been a reduction in the number of people killed on our roads last year. But at 136 the figure is still far too high. Improving road safety for all road users is a major policing priority and will continue to be so in 2006. We remain committed to a policy of education backed up by robust enforcement.

"Remember - wear your seat belt at all times, drive at an appropriate speed, never drink and drive, pay attention and we will see fewer people killed or seriously injured.”

(EF/SP)

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