THERE has been a reduction in the number of fatalities on roadways in the Newry, Mourne and Down District in the past year.
Figures from the PSNI show that during the twelve month period there has been three fatalities in 2021, against seven in 2020.
However, figures for the first eight months of this year show that Newry, Mourne & Down district had the most people seriously injured with 60 recorded during this period.
During that same period 372 people were slightly injured on local roads.
Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has issued an appeal to all road users driving, riding, cycling, wheeling and walking to do so responsibly and safely.
Minister Mallon made the plea as the release of provisional figures 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.”