Two-thirds of speed-related deaths in NI took place on rural roads

Over two-thirds of people killed in speed-related crashes in Northern Ireland in the last five years were killed on rural roads, according to harrowing figures released in time for Road Safety Week.

The week-long road safety initiative launched today (November 16) with the theme ‘There’s No Need to Speed’.

A total of 52 people have lost their lives on the road so far this year – sadly up an increase on the 44 recorded at the same point in 2019 and 49 in 2018.

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has today urged drivers and riders to slow down and reduce their speed on the road.

Minister Mallon said: “Excessive speed for the conditions is one of the main causes of people being killed or seriously injured on our roads.

“We must challenge, and disrupt attitudes of people who think that it is safe to speed. No one can foresee the unexpected.

Whatever the circumstances of any collision, whether on a rural or urban road, speeding always makes the consequences worse.

“We all must be mindful that speed limits are set as an absolute maximum and that the weather and conditions need to be taken into consideration when driving on any road. Speed does not need to be high to kill or seriously injure.

“Over the last five years, 56 people have lost their lives here due to ‘excessive speed having regard to the conditions’. Many, many more have been seriously injured.

“Road safety is important for every single road user all year round – not just for this week. We all have a personal responsibility to drive or ride in a way that keeps ourselves and others safe in our community.

Every 1mph reduction in average speeds causes, on average, a 5% reduction in collisions. This could be the difference between life and death.

“So please slow down, take extra care around our schools and act responsibly on every journey.”

PSNI Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Jonathan Roberts said explained speeding, drink or drug driving and inattention were “consistently the principal causes” of the most serious road traffic collisions in Northern Ireland.

While Assistant Chief Fire and Rescue Officer Paddy Gallagher explained that so far this year, the region’s firefighters had attended 451 road traffic collisions and rescued 317 people from vehicles.

“Please slow down – one life lost is one too many,” he said.

Rosie Byrne, director of operations with the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, added: “Excessive speed is no accident; it is a decision to drive faster than road and traffic conditions allow. It is also a decision to drive beyond your capabilities.

Unfortunately, if you have an accident when driving too fast, you are much less likely to walk away from it unscathed.

“Ambulance crews witness too many incidents where lives are lost and families are devastated as a result of decisions to speed.

“We ask you all, especially at this time of the year, to slow down and consider others when using the road. It is better to arrive late and alive than to not arrive at all.”