For some reason entirely unclear to me, Northern Ireland roads fatality rate became “news” yesterday, inevitably followed by the usual statements of “concern” from MLAs and an implicit suggestion that it is somehow “bad”.
It is unfortunate that the rate this year is up on last year’s. Yet it remains comfortably below 3 per 100,000 per annum – which is all likelihood will once again be the lowest rate in the UK, which itself has one of the lowest rates in the world. This is an astonishingly low rate, not least given that Northern Ireland is more rural than England and Wales and thus could expect to have a higher fatality rate (as, indeed, more rural Scotland and more rural parts of England have).
This does not make it any easier for the 45 families who have lost a loved one on our roads this year. Yet, just a decade ago and certainly two decades, we may reasonably have expected over 100 (sometimes more like 120) to have done so – this is a faster decline than in neighbouring jurisdictions, so cannot just be down to superior car safety (although there is no doubt that is the major reason for it).
It is not easy, when 45 families are grieving, to point to 55-75 who aren’t – but it is worth doing so. Our road safety is something to which we all, as road users, contribute; and thus the marked decline is something of which we should all be proud. Perhaps MLAs might like to point that out?