Northern Ireland road deaths fall to 68 in 2016 but safety still police priority
Sixty-eight people were killed on Northern Ireland's roads in 2016 - a slight fall on the previous year.
The death toll included four children, three cyclists and 14 pedestrians.
The number of fatalities dropped by six compared to 2015, but remains well short of the 372 people killed in 1972 - the blackest year on Northern Ireland's roads on record.
A senior police officer urged people to take care on the roads.
Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said every fatal accident had traumatic repercussions.
"While our preliminary figures indicate that 68 people have been killed on the roads in Northern Ireland, which is six less than 2015, it is difficult to see this situation as a successful outcome to the year," he added.
"As we start the new year, there are at least 68 families, groups of friends, work colleagues and communities across Northern Ireland who are coming to terms with the loss of loved ones who were killed in road traffic collisions.
"For others involved in serious collisions, it can mean adapting and learning to cope with life changing injuries."
Mr Todd said road safety will remain a priority for police.
"The simple reality is that many collisions can be avoided," he added. "So slow down. Pay greater attention to your surroundings, leave the mobile phone alone, always wear a seatbelt and never, ever drive after drinking or taking drugs.
"Look out for other road users. Whether as a driver, a motorcyclist, a pedestrian or a cyclist, we all share the roads and the responsibility for road safety."
The breakdown of fatalities in 2016 comprises:
- 32 drivers
- 14 pedestrians
- 12 passengers
- Four motorcyclists
- Three pedal cyclists
- One pillion passenger
- And two other road users.
The 68 road deaths last year compares to 74 in 2015 and 79 in 2014.
Analysis of figures shows the worst year on record was 1972, when there were 372 deaths.
The number of fatalities gradually reduced from the 1972 peak throughout the late 1970s and the 1980s before levelling off with around 155 deaths per year during the 1990s.
During the 2000s the total dropped from 148 fatalities in 2001 to 115 in 2009. The lowest figure of 48 deaths was recorded in 2012, increasing to 57 in 2013.
Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard said everyone has a responsibility to behave appropriately on the roads.
"Road traffic collisions are sudden, traumatic events, occurring in a moment but with consequences enduring for a lifetime," he said.
"This has sadly been all too evident over the Christmas break which has seen lives lost and families left heartbroken. I extend my sincere sympathies to all those who have lost loved ones and those who are suffering serious injuries through road tragedy in 2016."
Three people died on the roads in Northern Ireland over Christmas.
Londonderry woman Amy Loughrey was killed in a crash in Co Donegal on December 22. The 25-year-old was fatally injured when her car collided with another vehicle near Fahan.
The following day, Portuguese national Paulo Roberto Maiai-Lopes died after a crash on the M1 near Tamnamore.
And Stephen Martin (35), from Ward Avenue in Lisburn, was killed in a multi-vehicle pile-up on the M2 last Monday evening.
Mr Hazzard added: "Every day and every journey brings with it a new risk and we need to be on our guard at all times.
"I am personally committed to making road safety a priority.
"While six fewer people have died than last year, every death is one too many - we need to work together to make 2017 a better year on our roads."
Mr Hazzard pledged to focus on key causes of accidents such as drink driving, speeding, carelessness and inattention.