Share our roads responsibly - Annual road safety appeal from the Minister for Infrastructure

Date published: 01 January 2022


Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has issued an appeal today to all road users driving, riding, cycling, wheeling and walking to do so responsibly and safely.

Image of DfI Minister Nichola Mallon
DfI Minister Nichola Mallon

Minister Mallon made the plea as the release of provisional figures today by the PSNI show that 50 people died in road tragedies during 2021, which is 6 fewer people than last year. 

Thinking of the lives lost on our roads over the last 12 months, Minister Mallon said:

“I am acutely aware that too many people have tragically lost their lives on our roads in this past year, and many hundreds more have suffered serious injuries. My sincere sympathies go to those families, their friends and wider communities who are going through this bereavement; and to those who endure life-changing injuries as a consequence of a road traffic collision; all whose lives have now changed forever.

“It is disheartening that, with less traffic on our roads this year again so many people have sadly lost their lives on our roads. Recent events show us how quickly normal life can turn to tragedy in the blink of an eye.

“What is particularly shocking this year is the high number of motorcyclists’ deaths – 14 motorcyclists died in 2021, compared to eight last year and three in 2019.”

Continuing the Minister said:

“The evidence continues to show us that most road deaths are avoidable, as more than nine in ten deaths and serious injuries are due to human error.

“However we choose to travel, each one of us has a responsibility to ourselves and others to do so safely. If we all take that extra second on our journey to consider our actions as we walk, wheel, cycle, ride or drive, we could see a further reduction in the number of people being killed or seriously injured.

“As we begin 2022 with hope, I ask all road users to follow these four basic rules: slow down, pay attention, never drive having taken alcohol or drugs and always wear your seatbelt, however short your journey.

“I am actively committed to improving safety on our roads and continue to collaborate with our road safety partners in the PSNI, the Fire & Rescue Service, the Ambulance Service and many other agencies to deliver a programme of road safety education, engineering and enforcement initiatives.”

PSNI Chief Superintendent Sam Donaldson said: “Too many families are acutely aware of the devastation caused by a road death, whether that is the loss of a loved one or learning to cope with life changing injuries. There are also far too many people who will be living with the responsibility of causing serious harm and may also be facing prosecution which could ultimately lead to imprisonment.

“The Police Service remains committed to working with communities and partners to make our roads safer for everyone however the sad reality is that many collisions can be avoided. The number of motorcyclists killed on our roads this year is a real concern and a stark example of the vulnerability of our road users.

“As we look ahead to 2022 I am renewing our appeal for all everyone to slow down, pay attention, leave the mobile phone alone, always wear a seatbelt, and never drink or take drugs and drive.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. Provisional figures released today by PSNI show that in 2021 there were 50 deaths on roads in Northern Ireland as a result of road traffic collisions (up to 11.59pm on 30/12/2021).  This compares to 56 in both 2020 and in 2019.
  2. A total of 452 have been seriously injured until 31 August 2021. This is an increase from 383 at 31 August 2020.  A final total will not be confirmed by PSNI until spring 2022.
  3. The highest monthly death toll across the year was December where 9 people died on our roads.
  4. The number of people who died on Northern Ireland roads in 2019 was the same as in 2020; with 56 people having lost their lives in each year.  This was within the context of Covid-19 restrictions when there was much less traffic on the roads.  However, despite the reduction in traffic volumes, the number of speeding offences in 2020 was 8,985, which was an increase of 17.9% on the 2019 figure of 7,619. 
  5. 50 road deaths in 2021 is the second lowest recorded in Northern Ireland since records began 90 years ago in 1931.
  6. 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, 68 in 2016, 62 people in 2017, in 2018 55 people lost their lives.
  7. 15,128 people have lost their lives on our roads since records began in 1931 and 80,143 have suffered serious injuries since serious injuries were first recorded in 1971.  (The serious injuries figure does not include 2021 as this will not be confirmed until Spring 2022 although it is expected to be several hundred).
  8. Road user fatalities in 2021, by category, are as follows;
    Pedestrian 8
    Driver 20
    Passenger 7
    Pedal Cyclist 0
    Motorcyclist 14
    Pillion Passenger 0
    Other Road User 1
    TOTAL 50
  9. There were three child (under 16) fatalities recorded in 2021, the same as in 2020 and the two more than in 2019.
  10. 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 – 62
    2018 – 55
    2019 – 56
    2020 – 56
    2021 – 50  
  11. Some of the activities the Department for Infrastructure has engaged in during 2021 include:
  • The Department continues to use TV and social media as the main communication channels. The 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 has also removed the so called “statutory option” from legislation – making it harder for some drink drivers to evade justice.   The fine and penalty points for using a hand-held mobile phone while driving has been increased.
  • Introduction of part-time 20mph speed limits at a further 106 schools bringing the total number of schools to benefit from this new scheme to date to over 200.
  • Consultation for the new Road Safety Strategy to 2030 was launched 15 November 2021.  The purpose of the strategy is to continue our effort in addressing important road safety issues by providing a framework for government and other road safety stakeholders to establish their own road safety plans, objectives and interventions to eliminate road crashes which result in serious injuries or fatalities.
  • There is a public consultation to seek your views on a proposal to make careless driving a fixed penalty notice offence. Responses can be made online  nidirect - Consultation Careless Driving and the consultation will remain open until 18 January 2022.
  • A Pavement Parking campaign was launched on 1st November, encouraging drivers to be more considerate when choosing where to park; being mindful of the needs of other pavements users.
  • 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. While DfI has responsibility for road safety, many partners have contributed to work during 2021.
  1. To pledge to share the road to zero road deaths, visit
  2. The Highway Code is available to down load free.  
  3. All media queries should be directed to the Department for Infrastructure Press Office on 028 9054 0007 or email Out of hours please contact the duty press officer on 028 9037 8110.


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