Latest road deaths so distressing
Three more families were plunged into indescribable grief yesterday as a result of two fatal road accidents. More than 50 people have died on our roads since the beginning of the year. Tragically, as yesterday, many of those victims were young people.
While grief knows no age limit, there is something particularly distressing about the loss of young lives. The road accident in south Down, which left two teenage boys dead and another critically injured, is the third in that general area in recent weeks. A girl in her early 20s and three university students died in those incidents.
These were all young people who had yet to fulfil their hopes and dreams. In the normal course of events they would have had long lives ahead of them in which to make their mark on the world. Instead, their lives were snuffed out in an instant.
But the grief for their families will last a lifetime. They will always wonder what their children would have become, what their careers would have been, would they have married and had children, would they have gone off to another land to find fulfilment.
While every accident is due to a different set of circumstances, these tragedies should remind every driver of the need for absolute care every time they set out on a journey. Many accidents happen quite close to victims' homes, where maybe attention can wander due to the familiarity of the route.
Every year we hear appeals from police and fire officers who are often among the first on the scene of fatalities for drivers to cut their speed, wear seat-belts at all times, pay due attention to the road and drive appropriately to the weather and road surface conditions. The main factors in the cause of road accidents do not change substantially year after year.
In recent years there has been a consistent decline in the number of fatalities annually, but last year and this year the figures have crept up again. While the greatest spur to improved driver behaviour is greater visibility of police patrols, it is impossible for them to cover all of the province and especially the narrow rural roads where many accidents occur.
But today our thoughts are with the families of the two teenagers killed in south Down and the man who died in a crash on the outskirts of west Belfast. For those families, a void that can never be filled was created in an instant.