FIGURES released on Thursday have revealed that the number of people killed on Northern Ireland’s roads last year is the lowest ever on record.
SDLP Environment Minister Alex Attwood revealed that 48 – or four people a month – died on the province’s roads due to accidents.
That’s a drop of over ten per cent on 2011 when the roads claimed the lives of 55 people.
The main causes of death are speed, drink or drug driving and inattention to other vehicles on the road by both motorists and pedestrians.
Environment Minister Alex Attwood said the main causes of crashes continued to be speeding, drink driving and carelessness.
“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.”
Mr Attwood said “many more men than women” were being killed on Northern Ireland’s roads and that child fatalities had increased in 2012.
He said the “next horizon” was moving “towards a vision of zero fatalities”.
“I continue to urge road users to pay attention, expect the unexpected, slow down, always wear your seatbelt and never ever drink or take drugs and drive,” he said.
“By doing so – here and across the island – lives are saved.”
The PSNI’s head of operations branch, Superintendent Mark Purdon said one death was too many and road safety “remained a priority for the police throughout 2013”.
“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,” he added.
“The pain of these avoidable deaths has touched family, friends and communities right across Northern Ireland and beyond.”
Five children died on NI roads in 2012 compared to two last year.
A total of 14,570 people have lost their lives on NI roads since records began in 1931.
In 1931, there were 114 road deaths. This number increased over the years and peaked in 1972 with 372 deaths.