Hazzard - We all have a personal responsibility as we share the road

Date published: 01 January 2017


We each have a personal responsibility to behave appropriately as we share the road - to ensure our own safety and that of other road users.

DfI Minister Chris hazzard

That was the message from Roads Minister Chris Hazzard as he reflected on the loss of life on our roads in 2016. Provisional figures released today by the PSNI show that 68 people died during the year.

Minister Hazzard said: 

“Road traffic collisions are sudden, traumatic events, occurring in a moment but with consequences enduring for a lifetime.  This has sadly been all too evident over the Christmas break which has seen lives lost and families left heartbroken.  I extend my sincere sympathies to all those who have lost loved ones and those who are suffering serious injuries through road tragedy in 2016. 

“Every day and every journey brings with it a new risk and we need to be on our guard at all times.  I am personally committed to making road safety a priority.  While six fewer people have died than last year, every death is one too many – we need to work together to make 2017 a better year on our roads.  I will continue to work with my Executive colleagues, the PSNI, the Fire and Rescue Service, the Ambulance Service and the many other agencies to improve road safety.”

Continuing the Minister said:

“We will continue to focus on the main problem areas, such as drink driving, speeding, carelessness and inattention and seatbelt wearing; and on groups which are over-represented in the casualty figures. 

“These are a key focus of the Road Traffic (Amendment) Act, which was passed by the Assembly in January 2016.  The Act provides for a new drink drive regime that will mean lower limits including a de facto zero limit for learner drivers, newly qualified drivers and professional drivers.  Other changes will include a new graduated penalty regime, increased enforcement powers, and greater use of Drink Drive Rehabilitation Schemes.

“I am very aware that too many drivers continue to flout the laws on using a mobile phone when driving.  I intend to consult in 2017 on proposals to create a more effective deterrent.  I will also continue to encourage drivers through my Department’s road safety campaigns to do the right thing and prompt them to question their decision in using a mobile phone."

Almost all casualties on our roads are caused by poor road user behaviour and are therefore preventable. Mr Hazzard concluded:

“The vast majority of road deaths are preventable. Complacency poses an enormous threat to road users – so we must not let our guard down.

“We each have a personal responsibility to behave appropriately as we share the road – to ensure our own safety, the safety of our passengers and that of other road users.  Together, it is our actions that make a difference.

“I remain committed to doing all that I can to prevent the needless deaths on our roads.  I call on everyone to join me in making Road Safety a personal New Years’ resolution.”

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said, “While our preliminary figures indicate that 68 people have been killed on the roads in Northern Ireland, which is six less than 2015, it is difficult to see this situation as a successful outcome to the year.

“As we start the New Year, there are at least 68 families; groups of friends; work colleagues and communities across Northern Ireland who are coming to terms with the loss of loved ones who were killed in road traffic collisions. For others involved in serious collisions, it can mean adapting and learning to cope with life changing injuries.

“Road safety is and will continue to be a key priority for police. It should be everyone’s priority. 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 drive after drinking or taking drugs. Look out for other road users. Whether as a driver, a motorcyclist, a pedestrian or a cyclist, we all share the roads and the responsibility for road safety.”

Notes to editors: 

1. Provisional figures released today by PSNI show that in 2016 there were 68 deaths on roads in the north of Ireland as a result of road traffic collisions (up to 09:00 on 30/12/2016).

This compares to 74 in 2015 and 79 in 2014.

2. 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 and 74 in 2015.

3. 14,848 people have lost their lives on our roads since records began in 1931 and 77,211 have suffered serious injuries since serious injuries were first recorded in 1971.  (The serious injuries figure does not include 2016 as this will not be confirmed until mid-2016 although it is expected to be several hundred).

4. Road user fatalities in 2016, by category, are as follows;
Pedestrian 14
Driver 32
Passenger 12
Pedal Cyclist 3
Motorcyclist 4
Pillion Passenger 1
Other Road User 2

5. There were four child (under 16) fatalities recorded in 2016, one less than in 2015.

6. Road Deaths in the north of Ireland 2011-2016
Year - Total
2011 - 59
2012 - 48
2013 - 57
2014 - 79
2015 – 74
2016 – 68

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

8. Some of the activities the Department for Infrastructure has engaged in during 2016 include:

  • A social media campaign specifically addressing the various issues in relation to mobile phone use while driving was launched in March 2016.  The campaign aims to educate all drivers on the risks and consequences on using a mobile phone when driving by emotionally dramatising the dangers, which will influence their attitude by disrupting the compulsive desire to stay connected; and ultimately lead to better choices and better behaviour on the road.  The core message is that glancing at your phone, for just two seconds, doubles your risk of crashing and urges that ‘Everything Else Can Wait’.
  • Using TV and social media as the main communication channels, a new campaign addressing young driver and peer group passenger distraction was also launched in March 2016.  This campaign highlights some of the riskiest and most widespread behaviours young drivers and their young passengers engage in.  It also informs them of the potential serious consequences of such behaviours.  The core message is the ‘Young passengers and young drivers are a lethal combination’.  And the strapline urges ‘Friends Don’t Distract Friends When They Are Driving’.

In June the 2016/17 Road Safety Grant Scheme was launched which approved funding of £73,000 for 9 projects in the voluntary and community sector across the North.

The Department also 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 Road Safety Forum continued to meet to facilitate the sharing of views and concerns of key stakeholders.

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.  In particular, Young Farmers Clubs of Ulster, GAA, Coca-Cola and the MoD.

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.

The new measures to tackle drink driving will be introduced on a phased basis. The provision for roadside checkpoints, at current alcohol limits, commenced on 25 November 2016.

While DfI has responsibility for road safety, many partners have contributed to work during 2016.

9. To pledge to share the road to zero road deaths, visit https://www.sharetheroadtozero.com

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 974 383 and your call will be returned.

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