Belfast Telegraph

Death toll on roads horrifying

Editor's Viewpoint

The statistics show that many more people have died on Northern Ireland's roads this year than in 2012 and 2013. What those figures cannot show is the ocean of grief that has accompanied each one of those deaths.

In many cases these were people who left home or work on the most routine of journeys, trips they had undertaken hundreds or thousands of times before, but which they were fated never to complete on this final occasion.

The deaths of a man and a woman in separate accidents in Fermanagh so close to Christmas made those accidents especially poignant. And then there was the death last month of eight-year-old Adam Gilmour, knocked down as he walked to school with his mum and siblings.

His mum had earlier appealed to the local education board to pick the children up by school bus from their home because of the dangerous road they had to walk along. Prophetically, she had expressed the concern that one of the children could be killed on their daily walk.

While the circumstances and background to Adam's death were extensively covered by the media, many of the other fatalities were merely recorded. Yet those victims' families and friends no doubt can point out how some quirk of fate played a part in the accidents which claimed their lives.

And they can certainly tell how their lives were changed forever when they got that dreadful knock on the door to tell them that a loved one had died. As another year is about to dawn the bereaved will contemplate that the coming months will bring the awful first anniversary of the death of a family member.

Perhaps, like the rest of us, they will wonder why the death toll on the roads has soared so unexpectedly this year after a sustained period when the trend was downwards.

The road safety campaigns, backed by very graphic television advertisements, had seemed to be getting the message across on the dangers of speeding, inattention, drinking or careless driving.

It will take some time to fully explore the reasons for each fatal accident this year. Some may be just that, an unavoidable accident, but most will have some contributory causes. Road safety campaigners will then have to determine if their messages need to be focused in new directions and if more visible policing could also play a positive role.

Belfast Telegraph

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