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Two years of death and serious injury on Northern Ireland’s roads

Examining PSNI statistics for 1,321 collisions in 2013 and 2014 which led to the death or serious injury of road users. In total, 136 people were killed across Northern Ireland.
Deaths on Northern Ireland's Roads

Key findings:

  • Almost a quarter of the people killed on the roads in the last two years were young men aged between 17 and 24. Of all deaths, almost 80% were male.
  • The death toll includes 54 drivers, 25 pedestrians, 23 motorcyclists, 16 front seat passengers, 10 rear seat passengers, 7 cyclists and 1 pillion passenger.
  • Lisburn PSNI area had the highest number of crashes in total – 100. The lowest number was in Cookstown in Co Tyrone – 20.
  • There is a strong gender imbalance. 106 males were killed and 938 seriously injured during 2013 and 2014 – compared to 30 females killed and 492 seriously injured.
  • 637 incidents were single vehicle collisions, 587 involved two vehicles and 80 three vehicles. One incident – a serious collision in west Belfast in September 2013 – involved nine vehicles. One person was seriously injured and 14 were slightly injured.
  • More than a quarter (27%) of people killed were aged 65 or over.
  • Of the 298 people killed over a five year period (2010-14), 37 were not wearing a seatbelt
  • Despite the common perception that drivers are now well aware of the dangers of drink driving, it remains a serious issue. The top three principal causes of fatal collisions over the last five years in Northern Ireland were drink driving, followed by excessive speed and then inattention/attention diverted.

Insight from four voluntary and community organisations highlights the impact of road deaths and serious injuries on the individuals, families and the communities in which they live. The Road Safety Council of Northern Ireland, a voluntary organisation that aims to reduce death and serious injuries through its network of local road safety committees, is campaigning for changes. Sam Knox, Director, states that “The Road Safety Council is firmly committed to lobby to try and get change made to the law in terms of being caught as a driver using your mobile phone. We believe that, as is the case in England where they are looking at this in terms of new legislation, two strikes and a driver should actually lose their licence.”

Rural roads are of particular concern with 74% of the 129 fatal collisions having occurred on rural roads. The police area with the highest crash death toll in 2013-14 was County Fermanagh with 16 people were killed on Fermanagh's roads over the last two years. Aidan Campbell, Policy and Public Affairs Officer from the Rural Community Network expressed concern about the road death figures for rural roads. “Every road death is a tragedy and in one way it’s no surprise that the majority of fatal collisions are happening on rural roads but I didn’t realise the proportion of road deaths was so high on rural roads. For people living in rural areas access to a car is essential to access employment, education and services. On smaller roads, that are less well lit and have hazards, the margin for error is much smaller than in urban areas.”

A Department for Environment spokesperson said: “The Department is taking a range of actions to continue to push down deaths and serious injuries on our roads. We continue to focus on problem areas, such as drink driving, speeding, carelessness and inattention; and on groups which are over-represented in the casualty figures.”

The data for this project was sourced from the PSNI using Freedom of Information legislation. The data details the breakdown of all fatal and serious road collisions which took place during 2013 and 2014 including the date, time and location for each incident, road type, speed limit on the road and light, weather and road conditions. Gender and age data of all of the casualties involved in fatal and serious collisions over the two year period was also examined. To view this data click here.

To read the full story by Kathryn Torney, click here.

See also: Mapping Northern Ireland's Cycle Collisions.