Belfast Telegraph

Minister's plea as road deaths rise

The number of deaths on Northern Ireland's roads is on the increase.

Forty-five people have died so far this year compared with 34 over the same period in 2012.

Environment Minister Mark Durkan said almost all incidents were due to human error.

"I do not accept that any road death is inevitable or acceptable and I urge all road users to keep themselves safe, particularly now as the clocks have gone back and the weather will get worse," he added.

Most people agree that speed, carelessness and drink-driving are the main factors behind crashes, a survey has revealed.

Mr Durkan said t he Road Safety Monitor clearly showed a strong public appetite for getting tougher on drink-driving.

"But we need a further behaviour change," he said. "This is being driven ahead through my Department's Road To Zero campaign, which encourages people to feel personally responsible for their own safety and the safety of those with whom they share the road."

His proposed Road Traffic Amendment Bill will introduce lower drink-drive limits, a new penalty regime and powers for roadside checkpoints. It also includes provisions to better train, test and protect new drivers while they gain experience.

Mr Durkan added: "I hope to be in a position to introduce the Bill to the Assembly shortly, once I secure the agreement of my Executive colleagues."

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