Wednesday 18 June 2008

7,291 v 3,331

Between 1969 and 2001, 7,291 people died in Northern Ireland, not as a result of terrorist activity, no bombs or bullets to blame, no these people were victims of road traffic accidents.

During this period 3,331 people died as a result of the terrorist campaign.

Northern Ireland has always had an horrendous reputation when it comes to deaths on our roads, some of it due to the rural nature of the road network.

I have always held the view that the RUC (the old police service in Northern Ireland) did not see traffic offences as a priority. The reality was that speed traps etc would not have been possible in much of Northern Ireland, waiting to stop speeders made them a sitting target for terrorists.

The traffic branch was probably not a budget priority.

We have only in the last few years introduced fixed speed cameras, mobile speed cameras, and on two parts of the road network, average speed cameras. This new detection equipment was also linked to changes in the penalty system. It was only in the late 90's that penalty points became a reality for us in Northern Ireland.

Inexperienced drivers in Northern Ireland must display an 'R' plate, which means they are restricted to a maximum speed of 45 miles per hour for 12 months after they pass their driving test. This has not resulted in the significant reduction in deaths or serious injury to young people. It is still very much a reality for those living in rural communities that speed traps and traffic cops are just non-existent.

We need to tackle this menace, look at the causes and affect a solution.

It will not be solved by random speed traps, which seem to many drivers as another tax on the poor motorist.