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Lockdown has had little impact on NI road death toll, figures reveal

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Emergency Services at the scene of a crash on the Armagh Road in Moy on September 9th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Emergency Services at the scene of a crash on the Armagh Road in Moy on September 9th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Davy Jackson from Road Safety NI

Davy Jackson from Road Safety NI

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Emergency Services at the scene of a crash on the Armagh Road in Moy on September 9th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

The spring lockdown - when people were urged to stay at home for two months - had little impact on road deaths in Northern Ireland, statistics suggest.

As of Sunday, 52 people have been killed in road traffic accidents here in 2020.

On the same date in 2018 the number was 51 and last year it stood at 46.

But this year's total is closing in on the overall death toll for 2018 and 2019, which were 55 and 56 respectively.

It had been reported that road usage during the first lockdown between March and May had fallen by more than half.

But by the end of May the numbers were on the rise again, and this corresponded to a sharp rise in fatalities over the summer.

While the most up-to-date police figures show the number of accidents has declined, the number of people still dying on the roads is concerning a road safety charity.

And the figures, said Davy Jackson, chairperson of Road Safety NI, should serve as a warning.

He said: "The last thing we need in the run-up to Christmas is more fatalities, and it's up to each individual road user to take responsibility on the road.

"The figures are concerning since we've been told there was less than half the normal amount of traffic during lockdown.

"And we're now coming into the time of the year when the roads become more dangerous, the nights are darker and there's more chance of accidents.

"We have come a long way since the dark days of the 1970s, when in 1972 alone 372 people lost their lives on our roads.

"The number of fatalities thankfully started to fall year-on-year since then, but to have more deaths this year with fewer cars on the roads due to restrictions is a step backwards in terms of road safety.

"It's worrying. And as a charity we would urge people using the roads to take the greatest care possible. You would assume a lower number of cars on the roads would mean fewer accidents, but that doesn't necessarily equate and it's a concern that motorists might be taking less care on their journeys."

Police statistics until the end of August recorded 2,668 collisions, compared with 3,666 between January and August 2019 - a decrease of 998 collisions (27.2%).

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By that stage there had been 42 fatalities, 382 people seriously injured and a further 3,710 people slightly injured.

Whilst the number of fatalities increased by seven compared to January to August 2019, there were 123 fewer killed or seriously injured and 1,501 fewer slightly injured - decreases of 22.5% and 28.8% respectively.

Lockdown measures in relation to Covid-19 were introduced on March 23.

Police said the reduction in collisions and casualties should be seen in the context of overall traffic volumes which were estimated to have more than halved at the outset of lockdown and continue to show reductions.

Newry, Mourne and Down district had the highest number of road deaths (seven fatalities). Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon and Belfast City districts had the most serious injuries (51 people).

Last December alone the roads claimed nine lives.

Belfast Telegraph


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