A new road safety education initiative for young drivers is set to take place today (Friday November 21) at Larne Leisure Centre.
The event, organised by the Rotary Club of Larne as part of Roads Safety Week, will involve more than 220 pupils from St Killian’s College, Larne High and Larne Grammar schools.
The programme for the day will include a staged collision scenario, a talk from the PSNI, Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and ambulance service, advice from New Driver NI, a road safety play sponsored by DOE, concluding with a number of practical activities and one-to-one advice.
The event will take place from 10am to 2pm and is being supported by Larne PCSP; ASDA; New Driver NI and Michelin.
Official PSNI figures show that the overall number of road deaths have increased by over 39 per cent to 69 this year while the number of young people, aged between 16 and 24, who have lost their lives on the province’s roads has almost doubled at 67 per cent.
Twenty young people have lost their lives on Northern Ireland’s roads since the start of 2014.
Gordon Cowie, president, of Rotary Club of Larne, said: “Road safety is a state of mind. Accidents are the result of an absence of mind. This is the message we want to get across. We only have one chance, life doesn’t have reset button. Drive safely.”
Tony McKeown, director of New Driver NI, added: “Despite progress in the number of deaths reported on the roads in recent years, young drivers continue to remain most at risk and we urgently need to act to address the problem.
“The statistics about collisions involving young drivers are worrying for parents and the stories behind the figures are heart-breaking. Road Safety Week represents an important opportunity to highlight the dangers and risks involved with driving to our younger generation, who, along with older people, cyclists, motor cyclists and pedestrians, are at greater risk of dying or being injured on our roads.
“It is a shocking, disturbing fact that road collisions continue to cause so many deaths among young people. During Road Safety Week, let’s all take the opportunity to review our behaviour on the roads and consider what we can do to make our roads safer.”
The Rotary Club of Larne has highlighted some safe driving tips.
•Drive at the appropriate speed for the road and driving conditions.
•Avoid distractions – and never use a hand held mobile phone.
•Always be alert to other road users, pedestrians and potential hazards.
•Always wear a seatbelt
•Avoid alcohol – take the bus, taxi or appoint a designated driver.
Statistics provided by the DoE show there were 114 deaths on NI’s roads in 1931, and this number increased over the years before peaking in 1972 with 372 deaths.
The number of deaths then gradually reduced during the late 1970s and the 1980s before levelling off with around 155 deaths a year during the 1990s.
Road deaths then decreased during the 2000s dropping from 171 in 2000 to 115 in 2009 before the numbers more than halved in 2010 (55 fatalities) with similar numbers recorded in 2011.
Before 2010, the number of road deaths had never been below 100. The lowest figure of 48 deaths was recorded in 2012. This increased to 57 in 2013 and in 2014, 71 people have lost their lives so far.
Iain Greenway, DoE’s Director of Road Safety and Vehicle Regulation said: “Road safety is an all year round challenge for every road user. But Road Safety Week gives us a chance to focus on how normal life can be destroyed.
“Even though the overall picture shows that fewer lives are being lost than in the past, it is disheartening that 14 more people have died so far in 2014 than in the whole of last year.
“Together we have made enormous strides in road safety. Thousands of lives have been saved from death and serious injury by road users here adapting their behaviour over time and doing the right thing.
“But complacency tends to creep in and the cruel reality of road death is that normal, everyday life can turn to tragedy in a split second.”