Editor's Viewpoint: Roads death toll still too high despite fall
The good news is that the death toll on Northern Ireland's roads over the past 12 months was the lowest since 2012. The 55 deaths recorded was eight fewer than in the previous year.
While those statistics are to be welcomed and are a tribute to the blizzard of educational advertisements and other messages directed at motorists, the grim reality is that they still represent more than one death every week on average.
And research has shown that nine out of 10 fatalities and serious injuries are due to human error. No matter how safe manufacturers make their vehicles, they still have to be driven responsibly. It is the people inside the vehicle which are the most untrustworthy components.
The end result is that there are 55 families who start a new year with their lives utterly and forever changed, having lost a son, daughter, mother, father or other loved one.
It is absolutely no consolation to them that the statistics show a downward trend.
For each of those families the total contains one death too many.
And while we learn of the names and sometimes the lives of those who are killed, there are many others who live on, anonymous to the wider public with life-changing injuries. They may be left in a wheelchair, have impaired faculties, have lost limbs or been scarred beyond restoration. They will live vastly changed lives with their suffering unknown - except to their immediate families and friends.
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One statistic that brings us up short is the number of pedestrians killed in the last year. The figure of 16 is a proportion of the death toll and shows the necessity for motorists to take especial care on these dark winter nights, as well as pedestrians trying to ensure their own safety as far as possible.
Graphic advertisements point out the main causes of deaths on the road - inattention, drinking or drug taking, using mobile telephones, and speeding.
It is encouraging that more and more drivers are heeding these warnings, but it seems there is also a hardcore of motorists who ignore the advice.
Rural areas continue to be the places where most serious accidents occur for the obvious reasons that roads are poorer, there is little lighting and people tend to drive too fast on roads that they know well.
It only takes a fraction of a second to lose a life, a thought everyone who uses our roads should bear in mind every time they leave the house.