DEATH rates on Dungannon District roads have fallen to one of their lowest levels since records began.
In 2012 there were 2 fatalities on local roads, a drop from the previous year’s toll of 3. The number of deaths on local roads has declined significantly since 2009 when there were 8 road deaths.
The sharp decline has been linked to improved road safety, most notably the creation of the A4 dual carriageway between Dungannon and Ballygawley.
From being one of the most dangerous districts in Northern Ireland for motorists and pedestrians in 2009, the Dungannon borough is now one of the safest.
Omagh district, which had four road deaths is now the most dangerous area for traffic users in the F district, which includes Fermanagh, Dungannon and Cookstown.
Magherafelt had the most road fatalities in Northern Ireland last year with a total of 5.
Dungannon’s low death toll is replicated across Northern Ireland. The 48 fatalities last year compares to the peak of 372 40 years ago.
The trend has been steadily downward in the last four decades, with the annual total dropping below 100 for the first time in 2010.
In 1931, the first year statistics were recorded, 114 people died in road crashes. In the last 80 years, 14,570 people have lost their lives, with around 75,000 suffering serious injury.
Environment Minister Alex Attwood said the ultimate goal should be zero deaths.
“2012 has been an important milestone for road safety in Northern Ireland, but there are still 48 families who have lost a family member over the last 52 weeks,” he said.
“I extend sympathy to those families and friends who lost loved ones through road tragedy. In a week that has seen the death of a toddler in Dundonald, I know how painful the loss of each person will have been over the last year.
“This is the lowest death toll on record. The main causes of collisions continue to be speeding, drink-driving and driver, rider and pedestrian carelessness. Many more men than women are killed. Child fatalities have increased in 2012 - five children died in 2012, compared to two in 2011.”
Mr Attwood attributed the decrease in overall deaths to more responsible driving, the life-saving work of doctors and emergency services, better roads and stronger awareness campaigns.
“The next horizon is moving towards a vision of zero fatalities,” he said. “This is some time off - but if we can move from hundreds to dozens of deaths a year, can we not move further?”
The PSNI’s head of operations branch, Superintendent Mark Purdon, said: “Although we saw a decrease in the number of road deaths in 2012 to the lowest level ever recorded in Northern Ireland, we can take little comfort in the fact that 48 people lost their lives on our roads.”