Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland road safety warning as 15 killed or injured every week

Tragedy: Karl Heaney
Tragedy: Karl Heaney
Claire McNeilly

By Claire McNeilly

Fifteen people are killed or seriously injured on Northern Ireland's roads every week, a road safety charity has said.

The shocking figure coincides with the launch of national road safety week 2019.

Last year 55 people were killed and 730 seriously injured on local roads, figures show.

There was also a 16% increase in the number of motorcyclists killed or seriously injured in 2018 compared to 2017, rising from 97 to 113.

A UK-wide survey of 2,000 adults, commissioned by Brake, reveals that nearly a third of adults were in a collision, or had a near miss, with a vehicle on a UK road in the past year, with 45% of adults in Northern Ireland saying they were involved in such incidents.

Road safety campaigners believe that crashes and near misses have a big impact on people's perceptions of safety, making streets feel less welcoming and holding people back from choosing to walk and cycle.

Brake is sharing inspiring stories of supporters in Northern Ireland who are campaigning to reduce road danger.

Monica Heaney, whose 27-year-old son Karl was killed in a crash on the A1 between Banbridge and Dromore last year, is determined to make the roads safer for everyone.

She set up a Facebook campaign group called 'A1: How many must die?' and launched a petition calling for the essential upgrades to be completed.

The petition was handed to the Department for Infrastructure with more than 12,000 signatures and was used to provide evidence of the demand for upgrades to be carried out.

"It's difficult to speak out, but Karl can't have died in vain," she told the Belfast Telegraph.

"People need to know how devastating something like this is, especially when it can be avoided so easily.

"Every one of us has a responsibility for road safety and if we took that responsibility more seriously there would be fewer fatalities."

Mrs Heaney, from Warrenpoint, is also looking into how she can start a support group for people in Northern Ireland to enable face-to-face meetings for people bereaved by road crashes.

She added: "Karl's death could have been avoided. There is no support in Northern Ireland for people who have lost loved ones in road traffic collisions and it's time to change that."

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said speed was a key cause of accidents.

He added: "While only one third of collisions occur on rural roads, the severity of these crashes, which are often caused by excessive speed and inattention, means they account for two thirds of the deaths and over half of the serious injuries that occur throughout Northern Ireland."

Alan Walmsley, assistant chief fire officer with the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service, said: "So far this year our firefighters have attended over 600 road traffic collisions and rescued over 440 people trapped in their vehicles. Sadly, they witness first-hand the carnage on our roads and the lives completely destroyed as a consequence of irresponsible road user behaviour."

Robert Sowney, interim director of operations with the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, urged caution as winter bites and days become darker, leaving conditions more treacherous.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph