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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

Minister raises concern over number of road deaths in Northern Ireland

Infrastructure Minister John O’Dowd has raised concerns over the number of deaths on Northern Ireland’s roads, stating that a life is being lost “every single week”.

Mr O’Dowd told MLAs that there had been a further two deaths since he met police last week to consider issues around road safety.

Ministerial question time at Stormont on Tuesday was dominated by a series of questions around roads upgrades and safety concerns, including on the A1 and A5 roads.

Mr O’Dowd met senior PSNI officers in Belfast on Wednesday following the recent deaths of two teenagers on the A5 in Co Tyrone.

The minister said: “We discussed how we can work collectively to improve road safety, not just on the A5 but right across our roads network.

“As a department we are looking at further engineering measures we can implement on the existing A5 to improve road safety and the police are looking at enforcement measures.

“But I have to say that we can all play our part in this and it’s an issue for society.

“In the six days since I met with the police, two more people have died on our roads, bringing the death toll this year to 24.”

Mr O’Dowd added: “I send my heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of all those who have lost their lives on our roads.

“In the north the death rate on our roads is on an average of one per week.

“If we think about that, these are people, not just simply statistics – young, old, all beloved family members and friends.

“Every single week we are losing somebody on our roads and I appeal to all road users that whatever actions we take on our roads ensure that we arrive home safely and the people we share our roads with also arrive home safely.”

The minister said he hoped to bring a road safety strategy to the Executive in the coming weeks.

He added: “The strategy recognises that collisions are inevitable but does not accept they should ever result in death or serious injury.

“By 2030 we aim to reduce death and serious injury by at least 50% with our long-term aim of achieving zero road deaths by 2050.”

Mr O’Dowd told MLAs that the vast majority of accidents were caused by human error.

He said: “It is not an engineering solution, it is not a matter with the road, it is not a matter with the footpath or the cycleway, it is due to human error, usually the distraction of the driver in some way.”

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