Picture shows driver's lucky escape
A shocking picture showing just how close a driver came to death in a horror road crash has been released by police.
The photo shows a wooden fence post speared through the head rest of the seat the man was sitting in when the crash happened in the Lisburn area.
The PSNI has published the image, with the driver's permission, to re-emphasise its road safety message in a year that has seen a significant increase in fatal crashes.
Twenty more people have been killed on Northern Ireland's roads this year compared with the same point in 2013.
The death toll so far in 2014 stands at 73. In the whole of 2013 there were 57 fatalities.
The driver who was lucky to avoid the fence post is in hospital receiving treatment for a number of other injuries, including suspected broken ribs.
PSNI Lisburn commander Chief Inspector John Wilson said: "A full investigation has been launched to determine the cause of this accident but this picture shows that the driver of this vehicle was just inches away from a serious head injury.
"He is in hospital suffering from a number of other injuries including suspected broken ribs but he gave us permission to use the picture so we could show just how shocking this was.
"In Lisburn we have had seven fatal road collisions this year, six more than this time last year.
"Across Northern Ireland to date this year, 73 people have been killed on our roads, 16 more than the total number of people killed in collisions during all of 2013."
Focusing on the PSNI's general road safety message, the officer said: "We are getting tougher with drivers who flout the law.
"In Lisburn between the beginning of October and November 16, 145 fixed penalty notices were given to drivers for driving offences, which included 49 for excess speed and 56 for using a mobile phone. Two people were fined for not wearing a seat belt.
"All road users need to show responsibility. Do not speed, drive appropriately for the road conditions, do not drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, wear your seat belt, do not use a mobile phone while driving.
"Do all of these simple things and you can help keep yourself and other road users safe."
In a direct message to road users, he added: "Look carefully at this photograph. Understand the reality of this situation.
"Drive safely and do all you can to avoid being in the same situation. This driver was incredibly lucky not to sustain much more serious injuries.
"It's winter, so darkness comes earlier and lasts longer. Pedestrians should wear brighter clothing.
"Cyclists should also wear reflective arm bands and jackets and a helmet. Motorists should turn on their lights as soon as light begins to fade.
"Be seen. Slow down. Pay attention. Don't drive with drugs or alcohol in your system. Stay safe."