Page last updated at 12:50 GMT, Monday, 4 January 2010

Poots considers curfew for new Northern Ireland drivers

Pedestrian 24
The number of people killed on NI's roads increased to 115 in 2009

The environment minister has said he is considering introducing a night-time curfew on newly qualified drivers in an effort to prevent road deaths.

Edwin Poots made the announcement after the latest figures revealed that 115 people were killed on NI's roads in 2009 - eight more than in 2008.

Mr Poots said he was also considering restricting the number of passengers new drivers could carry in vehicles.

"These are all things that we are contemplating," he said.

"But in Northern Ireland we have a democracy, so we have to go out and consult the public on these issues."

In 2008, the Assembly voted to begin consultation on such a curfew as part of a graduated driver licensing scheme.

Mr Poots said the number of people killed on Northern Ireland's roads was "disheartening".

"The tragedy is that 115 people just like you and me were going about their normal business, presumably with hope, ambition and enthusiasm," he said.

"But they didn't get the chance to fulfil their ambitions.

"We will continue our sustained efforts to deliver a programme of road safety education, engineering and enforcement initiatives."

Downward trend

Of those that died in 2009, four were children.

Twenty four of the 115 were pedestrians, 46 were drivers, 29 were passengers and 16 were motorcyclists.

"There are still too many people dying needlessly on our roads," continued the minister.

"We will only see a further reduction in the number of people being killed if we all, whether as drivers, passengers or pedestrians, assume personal responsibility for our own safety and the safety of others."

Northern Ireland has traditionally had a poor road safety record with its rates of deaths and injuries per 100,000 of the population significantly above the rest of the UK.

However, in the last ten years the situation has improved with road deaths on a downward trend.

In 2000, 171 people were killed on the roads; the 107 deaths in 2008 was the lowest figure on record.



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