We can all help cut road deaths
Once again the toll of road deaths is making the news. We are barely three weeks into the new year but already five have been killed.
The immense suffering of yet more people is almost beyond our comprehension, as we try to contemplate the reality of grieving families and of lives lost.
It is especially hard to hear about the deaths of so many young people, including the little boy of only six years old who was knocked down in Newtownards this week.
His mother's grief, so vividly expressed on Facebook, is beyond words.
It is the nightmare that haunts every parent in the land.
Then, only yesterday, two teenagers aged 17 died in an horrific smash in south Armagh, from which a third teenager miraculously escaped.
The incident occurred during bad weather. Accident investigators will endeavour to find out if this was a factor in the tragedy.
Our road carnage seems to go on and on, and no one appears to have any answers for stopping it.
If there was a simple answer the problem would have been solved long ago.
In reality, the causes of road accidents are complex, involving those behind the wheel, pedestrians and everyone else who uses our highways.
It is important to strike a balance between the fear of accidents and the need for drivers of all ages to be given the confidence to take proper control of their vehicles.
In modern transport it is easy to drive in a way where the realities outside the vehicle are masked by the comforts and reassuring noises inside the cabin.
Yet, if anyone stands at the roadside and watches vehicles hurtling past, the effect can be truly frightening.
Driven properly, our vehicles are a great convenience. But when they are used without due care and responsibility they can become a death trap.
That is the issue facing everyone who drives or uses the roads, and the safety authorities, despite all their hard work, have not yet been able to bring home this harsh reality to enough people.
In such situations it is often tempting to shift the blame to others, but all of us should accept our individual responsibility to prevent these dreadful deaths and injuries, for all our sakes.