Nearly 40,000 people have been killed on the roads, north and south, since records began, according to Environment Minister Mark H. Durkan.
A total of 14,767 people have been killed on roads in Northern Ireland since deaths were first recorded in 1931. A total of 23,752 people have been killed on roads in the Republic of Ireland since records began in 1959.
Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan said: “Many generations and thousands of families in the North, including my own, have been devastated by the grief of loss and the heartache of road tragedy. Almost 15,000 people, just like you and me, have lost their lives.
“And this is why I am working along with my road safety partners - the PSNI, the NI Fire and Rescue Service and the NI Ambulance Service amongst others - towards reducing the carnage on our roads. We must do everything possible to prevent this loss and suffering touching any more lives.
“Road safety is a continuous challenge and road deaths do not discriminate. All road users are vulnerable, every journey, every day, every road. The certainty of the unexpected means that it is crucial to reduce speed, wear seatbelts and eliminate high risk behaviours.
“I am fully committed to improving safety for all road users. I firmly believe that by working together, we can rise to the challenge of making our roads safer for everyone.”
Minister Durkan concluded: “I therefore encourage that all road users commit to be the best road user they can be by pledging at www.sharetheroadtozero.com.”
Irish Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Paschal Donohoe welcomed the fact that people both north and south were coming together to remember all the lives lost on the island’s roads. He said: “Many lives have been saved and injuries prevented as a result of the collaborative work by road safety agencies on both sides of the boarder in recent years so it is fitting that we should come together on World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims’ to remember those who have tragically died on the road and to also think of their families.
“I would also like to acknowledge the great work done by those in the Emergency Services and medical professionals, on both sides of the boarder, who have to deal with the aftermath and consequences of collisions. We will be thinking of them too on Sunday and the life-saving work that they do.”
Ms Liz O’Donnell, Chairperson of the Road Safety Authority said: “We are delighted to team up with our colleagues in Northern Ireland to raise awareness of this very important day.
“In addition to those who have lost their lives thousands more have suffered serious, life-changing injuries. World Day of Remembrance’ reminds us how easily tragedy can happen but by making small changes to our behaviour on the roads, we can all help to prevent future tragedy. Never underestimate the role we as individuals can play in saving lives, each and every time we use the roads. Let’s all work together to share the roads responsibly.”
Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan, An Garda Síochána said: “This Sunday gives us all an opportunity to reflect on our behaviour on the roads. An Garda Síochána is committed to working with communities and organisations to make every effort to keep our roads free from tragedy, but our biggest enemy is complacency. What someone might perceive as a small risk could have catastrophic consequences for someone else, so we would urge everyone to look at their actions on the roads and make every effort to be a better, safer driver.”
Police Service of Northern Ireland, Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said: “Sadly, too often our officers have to go to the homes of families and relay the devastating news that one of their loved ones have been killed or seriously injured on our roads.
“Unfortunately so far this year 61 people have been killed on our roads across Northern Ireland. Behind each of these statistics are family and friends who have been affected and we must remember them. This Sunday provides us with an opportunity to remember all those people who have lost their lives on our roads.
“Our thoughts are with all their family members and friends not just today, but throughout the year.”
The Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, which was first held in 1993 in the United Kingdom and organised since then by non-governmental organizations in a number of countries, was created as a means to give recognition to victims of road traffic crashes and the plight of their loved ones who must cope with the emotional and practical consequences of these events.