Mid Ulster suffered the most road deaths in Northern Ireland during 2015, latest figures from the PSNI have revealed.
Along with the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon area, accidents on Mid Ulster roads claimed nine deaths during the last 12 months, two more than in 2014.
I am personally committed to making road safety a priority. I will continue to work with my Executive colleagues, the PSNI, the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and the Ambulance Service to improve road safety.Environment Minister Mark H Durkan
While Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service also reported attending over a third more incidents in its Cookstown District - up from 48 in 2014 to 67 in 2015.
In one weekend alone, last April, three people from the Mid Ulster area lost their lives in road accidents.
Overall there were 74 deaths across Northern Ireland, a slight decrease from the previous year, but significantly higher than 2013 when there were 57 fatalities.
Last week, Environment Minister Mark H Durkan urged everyone to take personal responsibility as they use the roads heading into the New Year.
“I offer my sympathy to those who have lost loved ones and those who are suffering serious injuries through road tragedy in 2015. I know that the pain of such a loss is deeply felt by family, friends and the wider community for a long time,” he said.
“Any death is one too many, let’s make 2016 a better year on our roads.
“I am personally committed to making road safety a priority. I will continue to work with my Executive colleagues, the PSNI, the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and the Ambulance Service to improve road safety.
“We will 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.
“These are a key focus of the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill which is currently going through the Assembly. The bill includes a package of measures to tackle those who choose to drink and drive, to reform the learner and restricted driver schemes and to introduce a system of Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL).
“I have just launched an anti drink drive social media campaign in the run-up to the Christmas season and I have also commissioned a second social media campaign specifically addressing mobile phone use while driving, along with a further campaign challenging young driver distraction, both of which will be launched in the coming months.”
The minister added: “It is each of us who can save lives, it is each of us who can protect ourselves and others from death and serious injury as we share the road - by slowing down, by always paying attention, reading the road and anticipating the actions of other road users, never driving having consumed drink or drugs, ignoring the mobile phone and always wearing your seatbelt, no matter how short the journey.”
Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said: “As we start the New Year, there are families and communities across Northern Ireland coping with the loss of loved ones who were killed in road traffic collisions. For others involved in serious collisions, it can mean learning to cope with life changing injuries.
“Road safety will continue to be a key priority for police, but the reality is that many collisions can be avoided. We must all take personal responsibility for our actions.”
Alan Walmsley, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service said: “It’s an unspeakable tragedy that 74 people died on our roads in 2015 (Provisional PSNI Road Death Statistics) - one death is one too many.
“Last year we attended 736 road traffic collisions and rescued 577 people. Unfortunately in 2014 our Firefighters, along with our colleagues in the Emergency Services, witnessed all too often the carnage on our roads and the lives completely destroyed caused by irresponsible road user behaviour.”