'Don't let it be you': New road safety initiative targets young drivers
Young drivers have been urged to take a road safety pledge as part of a new initiative to reduce crashes in Northern Ireland.
Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard said he hoped it would help encourage inexperienced drivers to develop good behaviours on the road.
Mr Hazzard launched the pledge at Belfast Boys' Model School at the start of Road Safety Week.
A total of 59 people have died on the roads between January 1 and November 20.
The minister attended the event along with representatives of the PSNI, NI Fire and Rescue Service and the Ambulance Service.
Drivers who take the online pledge will subsequently receive regular safety advice and driving tips.
"Road safety is an ongoing challenge and road deaths do not discriminate," said the minister.
"Adopting positive behaviours can help make a real difference in reducing the number of collisions and deaths on the road.
"While we are all at risk, some groups, particularly young drivers, are more vulnerable.
"However, it is important to note that all new drivers, regardless of age, are at an increased collision risk. In fact, almost one in five of all new drivers crash within the first six months."
He added: "We know that over 95% of deaths and serious injuries on our roads are due to human error - something that we as individuals all have the power to control by eliminating high-risk behaviours.
"It is a really positive sign that the pupils and staff at Belfast Boys' Model School are showing a commitment to road safety and I would encourage other schools to get involved."
Drivers can make the pledge on the Share The Road To Zero website at www.sharetheroadtozero.com
PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd added: "So far this year, police officers have visited the homes of 59 families across Northern Ireland to deliver the devastating news that one of their loved ones has been killed on our roads.
"Many more have received news of serious injuries. Behind every statistic, every news report, there are families and friends who have been affected and we must remember them.
"As we begin road safety week, we are reminding everyone to share the responsibility for road safety.
"Slow down; pay greater attention to the road and your surroundings; always wear a seatbelt and never drive after drinking or taking drugs."
Alan Walmsley, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, said: "It's an unspeakable tragedy that anyone should lose those lives on our roads.
"Sadly our firefighters have seen the devastation of irresponsible road user behaviour too many times this year attending 656 road traffic collisions and rescuing 447 people trapped in their vehicles."
John McPoland from the Ambulance Service said: "Road safety week provides the ambulance service with an opportunity to pass on important messages to all who use our roads, but particularly young drivers.
"The messages we pass on are as a result of experiences of our emergency crews who attend too many scenes of devastation - scenes where limbs have been lost, where bodies have been crushed and left mangled, where lives have been changed for the worse, and forever, and where young people have tragically died.
"Statistics show that, somewhere near us, some family is going to be left devastated due to the loss of a loved one in the run-up to Christmas. Our message is - don't let that be you."