A hard-hitting safety campaign that shocked a generation of drivers into taking greater care on our roads is moving to television slots ahead of the watershed for the first time.
The Department of the Environment’s latest road safety advertisements pack an emotional punch as they focus on the people left behind following tragic road deaths.
Hundreds of pupils and members of the emergency services were left in stunned silence after viewing the ad at a cinema yesterday.
It was also shown on television on Wednesday. For the first time, it was screened ahead of the 9pm watershed, meaning more young people will be able to see it.
This particular campaign concentrates on the drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders who all share our roads - and the need to push down the number of road deaths.
In the graphic climax, a driver is distracted for a second by a horse — and pays for that brief moment of inattention when he crashes into another car and hurtles through a fence.
This time, the Minister in charge of road safety is asking us to do more than just take care on the roads. Alex Attwood is asking people to sign up to a new pledge to take Northern Ireland towards a target of zero road deaths in what he described as a “significant step change” for his department.
The campaign, launched at Belfast's Movie House cinema, aims to get across the message that behind every road death statistic lies the story of a real person, so that people feel challenged to sign up to the DoE’s Vision Zero campaign.
Last year 48 people died on Northern Ireland’s roads — the lowest toll on record. However, the tally for 2013 now sits at 17, almost double the number this time last year.
Mr Attwood said: “This tells me that we should all sit up and warn ourselves of the risks on the road. The latest campaign advertisement is to make us sit up, be safe and to work to reduce road deaths, indeed to have a zero road death ambition.
“Road deaths are overwhelmingly due to human error which means we can prevent them. If road deaths can be reduced from 115 to 55 in one year and then to 48, then they can be reduced from 48 to 38 and then lower again. Zero may seem to be beyond our grasp - but to work relentlessly towards it must not be beyond our ambition.
“If we share the road, we have to share the responsibility. Everyone has the right to travel on the road.
“Everyone has the right to come home safely to their loved ones.
“Drivers, riders, pedestrians, or any road users – Share the Road to Zero.”
Paul Craig (16), of Corpus Christi College in Belfast, was among the select audience. He said the ad was “a bit sad”.
“I wouldn't like it to happen to anyone that I know. It’s sad to see it happening to people and their families,” he said.
“I am going to be starting driving lessons in June when I turn 17. It’s about being careful and looking at what you are doing and not anything else.”
Christina Paraskevas (14), from St Colman’s High and Sixth Form College in Ballynahinch, said she found the ad intriguing and interesting.
“It was a bit graphic but I think it will give a shock, to slow down and take more observation of what’s happening,” she said.
“I haven’t been out on the roads on my bicycle for a while but normally there are drivers who don’t really pay attention, so you’ve got to be twice as observant.”
People can pledge to ‘share the road to zero’ by clicking on www.sharetheroadtozero.com
Northern Ireland Road Deaths from 2007:
2007 — 113
2008 — 107
2009 — 115
2010 — 55
2011 — 59
2012 — 48
2013 to date — 17