Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland road deaths down on last year... but serious injuries on the increase

By Donna Deeney

A total of 63 people lost their lives on Northern Ireland's roads this year - five fewer than 2016.

However, new figures released by the Department of Infrastructure show an increase in the number of serious injuries from road collisions to 828 - the highest figure since 2010.

The 63 road deaths in 2017 continues the downward trend that began in 2014, when 79 lost their lives.

And while the total is significantly higher than 2012's low of 48 deaths, about half as many people are dying on Northern Ireland's roads now, compared to a decade ago.

One of this year's youngest victims was six-year-old Donnacadh Maguire who lost his life while he was playing outside his home in Tyrconnell Street in Londonderry in July. Among the other tragedies was another pedestrian, Lorraine Burrows (48), who lost her life when she was struck by a lorry as she walked to work in Belfast city centre in November.

The rural Clones Road in Co Fermanagh claimed the lives of two friends - Luke Lynch (22) who was the driver - and Ronan Melarkey (21), his passenger in a single vehicle crash in August.

Lynda Hurley, head of the department's Safe and Sustainable Travel Promotion and Outreach, said every member of society has a role to play to keep the number of road deaths down.

She said: "The consequences of road traffic collisions endure for a lifetime and this year has again seen lost lives and heartbroken families.

"While five fewer people have died than last year, every death is one too many - we need to work together to make 2018 a better year on our roads.

"There are still too many people dying needlessly on our roads.

"We will only see a further reduction in the number of people being killed or seriously injured if we all assume personal responsibility; whether as drivers, riders, passengers or pedestrians, for our own safety and the safety of others.

"Together it is our actions that make a difference."

PSNI data shows that 95% of all deaths and serious injuries are caused by human error, including drink driving, speeding, carelessness and inattention, and not wearing a seatbelt. Assistant Chief Constable Barbara Gray said: "Sadly (in 2017) 63 families across Northern Ireland are coming to terms with the loss of loved ones who have died due to road traffic collisions.

"The impact goes much further and many more are adapting and learning to cope with life changing injuries.

"There is also a small group of people who know their actions on the roads have caused death or serious injury.

"They not only have to live and cope with this knowledge, they may also be facing prosecution.

"Road safety is and will continue to be a key priority for police. It is a priority we all share.

"The simple reality is that many collisions can be avoided. So slow down, pay greater attention to your surroundings, leave the mobile phone alone, always wear a seatbelt, and never ever drink or take drugs and drive."

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