Northern Ireland facing ‘road safety emergency’

12.00 | 13 January 2014 | | 12 comments

The PSNI has urged all road users to take extra care following five fatal road traffic collisions in the first 10 days of 2014.

Speaking at a press conference at PSNI headquarters on 11 January, superintendent David Moore, said: “Northern Ireland is facing a road safety emergency. 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 explained: “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.”

Superintendent Moore said the PSNI would continue to focus on road safety and work with partner agencies including 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.”

Click here to read the full PSNI press release.

 

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    Considering how they seem to be playing down the number and seriousness of road accident fatalities, Idris and Terry’s interest and regular contributions to this road safey forum are therefore all the more surprising. Are they concerned or aren’t they?


    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    Just to say, entirely agree with the comment by Idris Francis. More people commit suicide than die on the roads, problem is car crashes are more visual and can be seen by everybody.


    Terry Hudson, Kent
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    “Going out on the roads is most likely the most dangerous thing we will do today.” Most certainly not – read the papers, watch the news. Being in hospital or indeed a care home is far more dangerous than being on the roads. No one knows precisely how many die accidental deaths in care as there are often multiple causs of death and the authorities naturally enough tend to report those which do not reflect on them. Even so many tens of thousands die in hospitals each year compared to fewer than 2,000 on the roads. Adjusting for exposure gives a ratio of 200 to 500 times greater, per hour.


    Idris Francis Fight Back with Facts Petersfield
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    A collision ‘causation factor’ is not wearing a seatbelt? Isn’t seatbelt wearing an injury mitigating factor in the aftermath of any collision not the cause of it. Getting something like this wrong makes you wonder how many of the other causation factors stated are equally incorrect?


    Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon
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    Elaine is perfectly correct when she says that road safety messages must be intelligent and instructive. Messages such as “wear something bright at night” are the perfect example of how to get across a complex idea by making it short, to the point and above all, rhyme.

    Messages must be remembered and then acted upon if they are to be of any worth, but we seem to have come away from the simple and effective message and instead we get rather meaningless messages like ‘slow down’ or ‘concentrate’ which singularly fail to have the desired effect.


    Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon
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    Like Trevor, I was at the Road Safety Forum meeting this morning, which was a valuable exchange between stakeholders regarding the 6 road deaths so far this year, and additional short term actions we could collectively take to address this. These actions are above and beyond a wide range of actions, under the banner of the Northern Ireland Road Safety Strategy to 2020. Over the last 10 years, NI has moved from being the worst region of the UK in terms of road casualties, to being one of the best. We all want to continue this journey, on the Road to Zero road deaths. A number of actions were agreed around additional communications, visible road policing, review of road gritting policy, and additional air time for road safety advertising.

    I should declare that I work for DOE. Repeated tracking surveys and other research shows that the viewing public treats the DOE road safety advertisements very seriously and repeatedly cites them as a top influence on how they behave on the roads. As we all know, road user behaviour is crucial in reducing casualties – as Supt Moore said this morning, going out on the roads is most likely the most dangerous thing we will do today – and we need to realise and respect that. DOE road safety advertising has played a key role in getting that message across and in reducing casualties on NI roads – from 372 in 1972 to 48 in 2012 and 56 in 2013. We have more work to do, involving education, engineering and enforcement. Minister Durkan recommitted himself to that this morning.

    Every collision has unique circumstances – these 6 are no different in that regard. However, the causation factors read out by Supt Moore this morning were ones with which we will all be familiar – alcohol, not wearing seatbelts, speed, inattention, and pedestrian behaviour. These continue to be challenges – in NI and beyond.

    I should also add that DOE’s advertising agency is reappointed through public tender on a regular basis, most recently last summer.


    Iain Greenway, Northern Ireland
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    There was an increase in fatalities last year (56) – 2013 over the previous year (48) in 2012. Now in the first two weeks of 2014 – six fatalities.

    Two of which were pedestrians – one killed by a hit and run driver, the other by a woman with numerous driving offences. One of those killed in another fatality was driving a stolen car. So of these, I just wonder if any message would have made the slightest difference? Which brings me to the Shock, Horror advertisements that we are all obliged to sit through on TV.

    Lyle Baillie (the advertising company which appears to have a monopoly in Northern Ireland) has taken credit for the reduction in fatalities in Northern Ireland. I wonder now if they will take responsibility for the increase? I doubt it.

    Superintendent Moore gave some very sound advice in his statement. Isn’t that the whole issue – giving sound advice? Like for example – advising pedestrians to wear reflective clothing and walk towards traffic, it’s simple but it’s effective – and it works. (A significant proportion of pedestrians killed here are in winter and are found to be wearing dark clothing).

    Teaching people how to behave seems a far better solution than the blood and guts ads, that clearly have done nothing to reduce road casualties. The point I am making is that it’s time for change – it’s time that the message sent out is intelligent and instructive.


    Elaine, Northern Ireland
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    I was able to attend a meeting today of the Northern Ireland Road Safety Forum, having a place at the table with other stakeholders as a motorcyclist. As the discussion is about what Superintendent David Moore said in his press release his comments and talking through the fatalities and where in Northern Ireland we should be going with road safety was a breath of fresh air. While he was armed with a raft of stats but a sensible interpretation of those. A long term look at NI data – http://www.northernireland.gov.uk/news-doe-030114-fifty-six-people


    Trevor Baird
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    The key quote from Superintendent Moore is “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”.

    He is perfectly correct for saying that, but being able to respond correctly to any unexpected event by making the correct control inputs is not something that we can do naturally. Unlike our friends in the airline industry that spend many hours in the simulator learning how to handle unexpected events, the poor motorist is pretty much left to their own devices when events do not go as planned.

    Contrary to popular belief the speed of travel makes little or no difference to the ability to handle ‘off-normal’ or unexpected events as they can and do happen at any time and at any speed. It is what happens immediately after the unexpected event occurs that makes the difference between a safe outcome and a disaster.


    Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon
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    He is referring to defensive driving i.e. concentrating and “..being able to respond to the unexpected” (by going slower) – a road safety message that is not promoted as often as it should be and should therefore be supported and reinforced, not challenged in an obtuse manner.


    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    I’m surprised that anyone, let alone a Police officer, should openly advise that people should NOT drive “at a speed suitable for the set of road conditions”. I know it’s been official policy for a couple of decades but it’s still unusual to hear this said openly. Superintendent Moore also advises “concentrate on driving that vehicle” but, if drivers are not to use that concentration to select an appropriate speed to avoid collisions, then what is the point of that concentration? Perhaps it might be wise to assume he has been misquoted or quoted out of context?

    Evidence clearly shows drink driving increases crash risk and also that seat belts do save lives so advising to always wear your seatbelt and to not drink and drive is good advice.


    Dave Finney, Slough
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    Once again the assumption that slower is always safer – sometimes it is, sometimes it is not. In any case, 5 days data is not statistically significnt however tragic the deaths are for those involved.


    Idris Francis Fight Back with Facts Petersfield
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