Police declare road safety emergency after five deaths in fortnight

Emergency services at the scene of a serious road accident on the McKinstry Road in Dunmurry.
Emergency services at the scene of a serious road accident on the McKinstry Road in Dunmurry.

Northern Ireland is facing a road safety emergency, police said, after a fifth person died after an accident yesterday.

A 58 year-old pedestrian died after a collision in south Armagh yesterday.

In a separate incident, another male pedestrian, who was described as elderly, was injured after being struck by a car on the Bushmills Road in Coleraine close to the junction with James Street.

Those casualties came only hours after a 22-year-old driver of a stolen car died after a collision with a lorry and another vehicle on the outskirts of west Belfast.

Superintendent David Moore, from the PSNI’s Operational Support Department, urged all road users to take extra care.

“Northern Ireland is facing a road safety emergency,” he said.

“We have had someone dying on our roads every 48 hours so far in 2014. That is five deaths in the first 10 days of the New Year and five families left devastated.

“The sad reality is that many of the deaths and serious injuries on our roads could be avoided but we need the collective efforts of everyone in Northern Ireland to do their bit to bring carnage on our roads to an end.”

Superintendent Moore said there were a number of issues drivers needed to take into consideration when getting behind the wheel of their vehicle.

He said: “The first issue is distraction - the first task of everyone taking to the road in a vehicle is to concentrate on driving that vehicle without being distracted by anything including mobile phones.

“You must not drive your car after taking alcohol or drugs. Every year across Northern Ireland, drinking and driving kills, maims and wrecks families. Police will not tolerate people who insist on driving after having taken drugs or drink.

“Drivers also need to slow down as speed kills. It is not about driving at a speed suitable for the set of road conditions, it is about being able to respond to the unexpected.

“It is also essential everyone in the vehicle wears a seatbelt as seatbelts really do save lives.”

Supt Moore warned that adverse weather conditions often faced over the winter period were also of concern.

He added: “We haven’t had a big freeze this year as yet but conditions could deteriorate. “Winter weather can lead to treacherous driving conditions which can also impact on a driver’s ability to judge distance and speed, so we all need to take even greater care on the roads.

“Pedestrians and cyclists should also wear bright clothing, reflective jackets or armbands where possible to ensure they can be seen.”

Superintendent Moore said the PSNI would continue to focus on road safety and work with partner agencies like the Department of Environment to tackle the issue.

He added: “This is about education and enforcement. No-one can say they have not been told about the dangers and the risks associated with road use and those who break the law in relation to this will face the consequences.

“We all need to play our part in road safety. All road users must accept their responsibility to think about their actions on the roads. If everyone slowed down, did not drive after drinking or taking drugs, wore a seatbelt and drove with more care and attention, fewer people would be killed or seriously injured on our roads.”