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We must quickly cut rise in road casualty figures

The tragic rise in our road casualty figures last year points to the need to be much more aware of all road users in 2015, and particularly of the most vulnerable ones travelling without the protection of a vehicle around them, such as pedestrians and cyclists.

Northern Ireland had one of the best road safety records in the world from 2010-13, but last year saw a marked decline. The most notable increase was the number of casualties not in vehicles at the time of collision - motorcyclists, cyclists and, particularly, pedestrians. We need to be aware that vehicles are increasingly effective at protecting occupants during a crash, but the advances are inevitably less marked when it comes to protecting other road users.

Our road safety message has come across well over the past decade or so, but it remains primarily focused on vehicles avoiding collisions with other vehicles. The necessity may now be to focus on collisions with other road users, particularly those with no protection at all.

There remains a marked tendency for those causing accidents to be less experienced, and I therefore broadly welcome proposed Stormont legislation to tackle this. However, victims are increasingly disproportionately male and pedestrian/cyclist. We will need to look at this, too.

However, there is only so much politicians and officials can do. I would urge all road users to redouble their efforts to keep our roads safe, and I would particularly urge drivers to pay attention to the most vulnerable road users, typically pedestrians and cyclists.

PAULA BRADSHAW

Alliance councillor for Balmoral, Belfast

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