Belfast Telegraph

Road safety demands adequate resources

Editor's Viewpoint

The latest figures reveal that the number of dedicated PSNI traffic officers here has fallen by nearly 40 per cent in the last 10 years.

This has undoubtedly made it harder to stem the number of road deaths and injuries in Northern Ireland. The number of police traffic officers dropped from 249 in 2007 to 190 in 2012, and currently stands at 151.

It is obvious that the fewer the number of dedicated traffic officers, the more difficult it is to police road safety.

Earlier this year the Chief Constable George Hamilton announced that his force is to lose 238 officers in the next two years, with a resultant police total of 6,600.

This will be less than his minimum requirement of 7,000 to maintain a "resilient" PSNI. The fall in numbers has a direct bearing on the road casualty figures. There were 68 fatalities in 2016, which is a reduction of only six on the previous year.

This is despite a hard-hitting television advertising campaign, with images so realistic they are difficult to watch.

These include scenes of road carnage, and also the impact on relatives of losing loved ones, as well as the emotional strain on the emergency personnel who deal with those killed and injured. The campaign helps to act as a deterrent to dangerous driving, but it is only part of the battle in enforcing road safety. The police need the resources on the ground to back up their road safety campaign, especially when it comes to such measures as applying important new laws, including stiffer penalties to combat the use of mobile phones while driving.

The steady decrease in the number of police officers adds to the many pressures on the PSNI in general, not least the continuous threat from dissidents. However, the PSNI really does deserve adequate resources to help ensure the safety of everyone, including the many thousands of us who drive along our roads daily.

While there has been a downward trend in road deaths over the past decade, the police still require adequate resources to deal with the problem. The number of deaths on our roads are still far too high. Nevertheless, this is a challenge to all of us who sit behind the steering wheel of a vehicle on our roads.

Better and more considerate driving manners, and the adoption of greater responsibility all round, would go far to decrease the ever-present dangers on our roads.

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