MORE people died on Magherafelt roads than anywhere else in Northern Ireland: that’s the shocking fact revealed by the latest police figures for road fatalities in 2012.
Last year there were 5 fatalities on Magherafelt district roads, a rise of more than 50 percent from the previous year’s toll of 2.
Alarmingly, the local road death toll was twice as much the combined total of fatalities in Derry, Strabane and Limavady, the other borough areas included in policing district G.
Antrim, Omagh and Ballymena had the next highest number of road fatalities at 4, while a large number of districts reported no traffic deaths including Cookstown, Limavady, Strabane, Larne and Ballymoney.
The sharp increase in Magherafelt’s road deaths runs counter to the Northern Ireland trend which has seen a significant reduction in deaths.
The province’s 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.”