Northern Ireland's road death decrease 'due to recession'
Published 04/01/2011 | 12:35
Northern Ireland's record low road fatality toll has been attributed to the recession today.
A total of 55 people were killed last year, according to the latest figures.
The Road Victims Trust said the recession and bad weather meant fewer people were driving and more were seeking cheaper alternatives.
Chief executive Tony Parker said: "One of the factors is that there is a lot less traffic on the roads because of the recession and people have to pay more for fuel. They are more likely to use other means of transport which is more cost-effective."
He said road safety mechanisms in cars such as anti-lock braking systems (ABS), air bags, better design of cars and increased wearing of seatbelts meant people were surviving accidents at 60mph when previously they were dying.
Environment Minister Edwin Poots revealed that 55 people were killed on Northern Ireland roads in 2010, the lowest since records began in 1931. That is 60 fewer than the previous year, representing a 50% fall in fatalities and a 20% reduction in serious injuries.
In 2000, 171 people were killed and over the past decade this has steadily declined.
Mr Parker said seasonal factors also needed to be considered.
"Because of the bad weather there is less traffic on the road and people are a lot more careful," he said.
Mr Poots said complacency could become the greatest threat.
"The figures released today are a significant milestone for road safety here and the reduction is very welcome. But it is with extreme caution that we note the number of lives saved in 2010," he added.
"It is difficult to take pleasure from this record low when 55 people just like you and me were going about their normal business, presumably with hope, ambition and enthusiasm for the life they expected to have. But they didn't get the chance to fulfil their ambitions.
"The death of each one is tragic and will have brought enormous suffering to their families and friends. Already just days into 2011, another family is suffering after a death on our roads."