Department for Infrastructure - We all have a personal responsibility to share the road

Date published: 01 January 2018

The Department for Infrastructure is encouraging all road users to take personal responsibility and share the road in 2018 and ensure their own safety and that of other road users.

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The release of provisional figures today by the PSNI showing that 63 people died in road tragedies during 2017, five fewer people than last year. 

Reflecting on the loss of life on our roads this year, Head of the Department’s Safe and Sustainable Travel Promotion and Outreach team Lynda Hurley said: “The consequences of road traffic collisions endure for a lifetime and this year has again seen lost lives and heartbroken families.  On behalf of the Department I would like to extend my sincere sympathies to all those who have lost loved ones and those suffering serious injuries through road tragedy. 

“While five fewer people have died than last year, every death is one too many – we need to work together to make 2018 a better year on our roads. PSNI data shows the persistent behaviours that lead to road collisions. The main problem areas, namely drink driving, speeding, carelessness and inattention and seatbelt wearing are things we as road users can control. 

“The evidence shows that over 95% of deaths and serious injuries on our roads are due to human error; caused by poor road user behaviour and are therefore preventable. Over-confidence and complacency pose enormous threats to road users so we must not let our guard down.

“There are still too many people dying needlessly on our roads. We will only see a further reduction in the number of people being killed or seriously injured if we all assume personal responsibility; whether as drivers, riders, passengers or pedestrians, for our own safety and the safety of others. Together it is our actions that make a difference.

“The Department is continuing its sustained efforts, working with road safety partners, the PSNI, the Fire and Rescue Service, the Ambulance Service and the many other agencies to deliver a programme of road safety education, engineering and enforcement initiatives to improve road safety.

“The Department remains committed to doing all that it can to prevent the needless deaths on our roads and as such, calls on everyone to help make Road Safety a personal New Year’s resolution.”

Assistant Chief Constable Barbara Gray said: “While the determined and collaborative efforts of many individuals and partner agencies have helped deliver an overall reduction in the number of people killed on roads across Northern Ireland, one death is one too many.

“Sadly (in 2017) 63 families across Northern Ireland are coming to terms with the loss of loved ones who have died due to road traffic collisions. The impact goes much further and many more are adapting and learning to cope with life changing injuries.

“There is also a small group of people who know their actions on the roads have caused death or serious injury. They not only have to live and cope with this knowledge, they may also be facing prosecution.

“Road safety is and will continue to be a key priority for police. It is a priority we all share. The simple reality is that many collisions can be avoided. So slow down; pay greater attention to your surroundings; leave the mobile phone alone; always wear a seatbelt and NEVER ever drink or take drugs and drive.”

Notes to editors: 

1.  Provisional figures released today by PSNI show that in 2017 there were 63 deaths on roads in the north of Ireland as a result of road traffic collisions (up to 09:00 on 22/12/2017).  This compares to 68 in 2016 and 74 in 2015.

2.  There were 828 serious injuries in road traffic collisions. This is 16 per cent more than the number recorded in 2016 and, although this still represents an overall reduction of 25 per cent on the baseline figure (1,111), it is the highest number recorded since 2010. The 2020 target is to have 611 or fewer serious injuries on our roads each year.

3.  In 1931 there were 114 road deaths and this number increased over the years before peaking in 1972 with 372 deaths.  The number of road deaths then gradually reduced during the late 1970s and the 1980s before levelling off with around 155 deaths per year during the 1990s.  Road deaths then decreased during the 2000s, dropping from 148 fatalities in 2001 to 115 in 2009 before the numbers more than halved in 2010 (55 fatalities) with similar numbers recorded in 2011 (59 fatalities).  The lowest figure of 48 deaths was recorded in 2012, increasing to 57 in 2013, 79 in 2014, 74 in 2015 and 68 in 2016.

4.  14,848 + 63 people have lost their lives on our roads since records began in 1931 and 78,039 have suffered serious injuries since serious injuries were first recorded in 1971.  (The serious injuries figure does not include 2017 as this will not be confirmed until mid-2018 although it is expected to be several hundred).

5.  Road user fatalities in 2017, by category, are as follows;
Pedestrian 15
Driver 25
Passenger 12
Pedal Cyclist 2
Motorcyclist 9
Pillion Passenger 0
Other Road User 0

6.  There were four child (under 16) fatalities recorded in 2017, the same as in 2016.

7.  Below is a snapshot of road death trends at various years from 1931 to present day.
Year – Total
1931 – 114
1945 – 124
1953 – 163
1964 – 219
1969 – 257
1972 – 372
1982 – 216
1990 – 185
2000 – 171
2009 – 115
2010 – 55
2011 – 59
2012 – 48
2013 – 57
2014 – 79
2015 – 74
2016 – 68
2017 – 63
8.  Some of the activities the Department for Infrastructure has engaged in during 2017 include:

  • The Department continues to use TV and social media as the main communication channels. The ‘Share The Road To Zero’ website includes information on road safety but also a facility for users to register to pledge to share the road to zero by inputting their details. This represents a personal commitment to be the best road user that you can be by adopting positive road user behaviours to help prevent deaths and serious injuries on our roads.  This pledge then places them on a mailing list to receive a weekly e-mail with road safety advice and campaign messages.  Followers on Facebook and Twitter receive a daily tweet and Facebook post with road safety advice and Highway Code rules.
  • The Department continues to provide a range of resources and schemes to be used by teachers to allow them to improve road safety behaviours in children and young people. 

The Department continued working in partnership with the PSNI, the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and the NI Ambulance Service to deliver a programme of road safety education and enforcement initiatives.

DfI continued to work closely with other organisations to deliver the road safety message at local levels.

The package of measures contained in the Road Traffic (Amendment) Act, includes:

  • new, lower drink drive limits of 50mg/100mls for typical drivers and 20mg/100mls for novice and professional drivers;
  • a new graduated penalty regime including fixed penalties for low-level alcohol offences;
  • new police powers to establish, under controlled circumstances, roadside check-points where any driver may be required to take a breath test;
  • automatic referral of offenders to an approved drink drive rehabilitation course; and
  • removal of the ‘statutory option’ that currently allows a driver to require that a blood or urine specimen replace the breath test where the breath test is marginally above the current drink drive limit.

While DfI has responsibility for road safety, many partners have contributed to work during 2017.

9.  To pledge to share the road to zero road deaths, visit

10.  For media enquiries please contact DfI Press Office tel. 028 9025 6058 or out of office hours, contact EIS Duty Press Officer on pager 07623 974383 and your call will be returned.

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