Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Driving home the safety message

News that the number of road deaths this year in Northern Ireland is half the total 12 months ago is very welcome and is great encouragement for all those who work to reduce the annual carnage.

It confirms the downward trend of recent years and is set to be the lowest death toll since records began 80 years ago.

Of course we must remember that none of the above is any consolation to the 51 families bereaved already this year. For them, 2010 will always be the year when they lost someone very close to them in what may have been an avoidable accident.

And, sadly, most traffic fatalities are avoidable with speed, inattention and carelessness the major causes of accidents.

The clampdown on drinking and driving - especially as we come into the festive season - has been a major success and it now appears that the graphic road safety advertising campaigns devised by a Belfast agency, Lyle Bailie, is also forcing drivers and pedestrians to re-evaluate how they behave on the road.

Other factors include better standards of vehicles, greater law enforcement and road improvements, although there is some concern that the condition of our streets and by-ways will deteriorate when the public spending cuts begin to bite next year.

It is vital that the concentrated and cohesive approach to road safety by police, campaigners and legislators continues to be given a high priority. The statistics show that it is working and that lives are being saved.

At the launch of Road Safety Week yesterday, the husband and daughter of a young mother who was killed along with her eight-year-old son just before Christmas a decade ago, told of the heartbreak they still suffer. Their poignant story reveals the human tragedy that lies behind every road death statistic.

We should strive to ensure the number of those tragedies is as small as possible.

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