Roads in Fermanagh and Omagh third deadliest in UK
Roads in the Fermanagh and Omagh area are among the most deadly in the UK, with the third highest rate of fatalities, shocking figures have revealed.
A total of 47 people lost their lives on the roads there between 2012 and 2016.
The death rate of 4.15 per 10,000 residents was the highest in Northern Ireland and third highest in the UK overall, an analysis by council area found.
The details emerged in a report based on figures released by the UK Department of Transport and the PSNI.
Three other Northern Ireland council areas also ranked among the top 25 in the UK for worst death rates.
Across Mid Ulster, 32 people lost their lives on the roads (2.309 deaths per 10,000 people, placing it 19th). A further 31 people from the Causeway Coast & Glens area died (2.201 per 10,000, ranking 23rd) while in Newry, Mourne & Down 35 people died (2.040 per 10,000, the 25th highest death rate).
In contrast, Belfast was ranked the fourth safest area in the UK, with a roads death rate of 0.629 fatalities per 10,000 residents during 2012 to 2016.
Fermanagh and Omagh Sinn Fein councillor Thomas O'Reilly said the figures are a stark reminder of the importance of road safety.
"The roads of Fermanagh and Omagh are not the best to say the least and we recognise that and through the Police and Community Safety Partnership we work with schools every year, trying to bring home the message of just how dangerous our roads can be," he said.
"Quite a high percentage of those involved in collisions, including fatal crashes, are younger people.
"Along with this we try and bring people's attention to the importance of not drink-driving, not using their phones when driving and keeping their speed down, in serious campaigns that are run year after year because year after year we are getting a new generation of young people learning to drive and taking to the roads."
Last year, lifelong friends Luke Lynch (22) and Ronan Melarkey (21) lost their lives in Newtownbutler.
Mr O'Reilly added: "A spilt second can make the difference between life and death.
"Ronan and Luke were two young friends who died so close to their own homes, leaving their families devastated."
Christopher Sherrard set up Lost Lives, an organisation for people across Northern Ireland who have been bereaved by road tragedies.
He said the toll on a bereaved family can last for years.
"The fact that four different council areas in Northern Ireland are among the worst 25 across the UK is a big concern," he said.
"Behind each of these statistics is a family that will have been left to cope with the aftermath of a sudden death and a pain that never really goes away.
"What makes these figures particularly difficult is that in so many cases death most likely could have been prevented if more care and attention had been paid while driving."
The report was produced by telematics technology firm Teletrac Navman using official data.