Road safety minister tells of death
A minister unveiling road safety plans at the Assembly has revealed how his own family was touched by a road death tragedy only days ago.
Environment Minister Edwin Poots told MLAs that a 20-year-old friend of his son was killed in an accident over the weekend.
The DUP minister detailed the impact of the tragedy as he published his Road Safety Strategy for the next 10 years, along with proposals aimed at learners and young drivers.
Mr Poots released a consultation with proposals including raising the minimum age for holding a licence, a requirement for learner drivers to take a minimum number of lessons, a plan to allow learners on motorways, amending learner driver speed limits, introducing night time/early morning driving restrictions, plus proposals to restrict passenger numbers.
But before unveiling his road safety plans, he said: "This is particularly personal on this occasion. On Sunday evening my son came home and informed me that the young man that he had spent the weekend with was killed on his way home.
"It is a very sad and a very tragic situation, when someone so young loses their life in circumstances such as this."
It was later confirmed the minister's comments related to the death of 20-year-old Matthew Watson from the Richhill area, who died in a three-car collision on the main road between Armagh and Newry on Sunday.
A passenger in a separate vehicle, 39-year-old Eleanor Thompson from the Newry area, also died in the accident.
Mr Poots said considerable progress had been made in reducing the number of fatal accidents, but he warned against complacency and said the new measures were necessary.
He launched the Road Safety Strategy for the next 10 years, as well as announcing a consultation on a Graduated Driver Licensing scheme which reforms the learner and restricted driving schemes.