Belfast Telegraph

Precious lives, not just statistics

Editor's Viewpoint

On a beautiful sunny holiday weekend, death cast its awful shadow over a number of families across Northern Ireland as road accidents left a toll of four lives lost, two others clinging desperately to life and several more suffering serious injuries.

The ages of three of those killed - an 11-year-old boy in Fermanagh and a 19-year-old and 26-year-old in a horror two-car crash near Ballycastle - lent a special poignancy to the tragedies.

These were lives yet to be fulfilled, young people in whom their parents had invested so much hope and wishes for the future. At best they had glimpses of what their sons could be but now, sadly, will never be.

The other road victim, a 42-year-old motorcyclist killed on the outskirts of west Belfast, may have been of more mature age but still his was a life cut tragically short.

Sometimes it takes a number of such deaths so close together to make us realise that the toll on our roads is not just a set of statistics but a series of devastating tragedies visited upon unsuspecting families leaving them wracked with pain at this time, and forever mourning the loss of a loved one.

In just slightly over three months this year 15 people have died on our roads. It is scant consolation that this is two less than in the same period during the preceding 12 months, as 2014 was a year when the death toll climbed by 22 compared to 2013.

While the trend has generally been downwards, even the best year since records began - 2013 - recorded 57 deaths on the roads, more than one a week. There is no doubt that some, possibly the majority, of road fatalities are preventable. We only have to look at the very graphic road safety advertisements to see how human behaviour can have tragic consequences.

Driving our cars or motorcycles and even walking along our roads are such commonplace daily activities that we often forget their deadly potential.

This weekend our roads were very busy as people took advantage of the good weather. After some of the stormiest days of the year it was a great opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and a short break from work.

How horrific then that the period should be blighted in such tragic circumstances. In an instant, the sunshine was extinguished from several families' lives as they received that most dreadful knock at the door.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph