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We must do more to cut unacceptable number of road deaths

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 13/02/2016

Karla and David
Karla and David

There have been 10 deaths on Northern Ireland's roads already this year. This is not just a statistic. It is the loss of 10 people who were alive on January 1 but are now gone - people like the latest victim Karla Cameron who died after her car was in collision with another vehicle on the main road between Antrim and Ballymena on Thursday.

It is only when we learn something about the person who died that the grim reality of the roads death toll actually strikes home. Karla was a young wife who had been married just over three years. She was a Sunday school teacher and an assistant manager at a daycare centre. She was also an only child.

That is the merest profile of a much-loved young woman, but even those details make us realise how devastating her death is for her husband, parents and family circle, as well as all those who knew and loved her.

There are nine other families still suffering that raw grief from other fatal accidents this year. The death toll is already double that at the same time last year. Since records began in 1931, some 14,790 people have died on our roads. It is an appalling total for such a small province.

Astonishingly, it was only in 2010 that the number of people killed in traffic accidents in a single year fell to double figures. Since then, the rate has remained relatively stable, but we can never regard any number as an acceptable death toll.

The ultimate ambition must be zero deaths, but how can that be approached, never mind achieved? Obviously, we still require further driver education. Speed kills is not just a slogan but a fact. Other factors include not paying heed to weather conditions or driving while intoxicated or without due care and attention.

Along with education - the graphic road safety advertisements have had an effect - perhaps there needs also to be stiffer penalties for those guilty of infringing the laws of the road. Most of all, we must always remember that any one of us could be the next victim.

Belfast Telegraph

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