New road safety scheme targets young drivers in Northern Ireland

Young drivers have been urged to take a road safety pledge as part of a new initiative to reduce the number of crashes in Northern Ireland.

Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard said he hoped it would help encourage inexperienced drivers to develop good behaviours on the road.

Mr Hazzard launched the pledge at Belfast Boys' Model School at the start of Road Safety Week.

A total of 59 people died on the roads in Northern Ireland between January 1 and November 20 this year.

The pledge is part of the minister’s Share the Road to Zero safety campaign which aims to reduce the number of deaths on the country’s roads to none.

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Mr Hazzard attended the event along with representatives of the PSNI, NI Fire and Rescue Service and the Ambulance Service.

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"Adopting positive behaviours can help make a real difference in reducing the number of collisions and deaths on the road,” he said.

"While we are all at risk, some groups, particularly young drivers, are more vulnerable.”

But Mr Hazzard also pointed to the risks faced by new drivers of all ages.

He said: "It is important to note that all new drivers, regardless of age, are at an increased collision risk. In fact, almost one in five of all new drivers crash within the first six months.

"We know that over 95% of deaths and serious injuries on our roads are due to human error - something that we as individuals all have the power to control by eliminating high-risk behaviours.”

READ MORE: Deaths and serious injuries on the rise on UK roads

Drivers who take the online pledge will receive regular safety advice and driving tips.

Alan Walmsley, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, said: "It's an unspeakable tragedy that anyone should lose their lives on our roads.

"Sadly our firefighters have seen the devastation of irresponsible road user behaviour too many times this year attending 656 road traffic collisions and rescuing 447 people trapped in their vehicles."

Road safety charity Brake also launched a similar campaign on Monday and is urging all road users to make the Brake Pledge to help stop the five deaths and 62 serious injuries that happen every day on UK roads.

The campaign will focus on the six elements of the Brake Pledge for Road Safety Week 2016: Slow, Sober, Secure, Silent, Sharp and Sustainable.

This includes promising to keep to the speed limits, not drinking alcohol before driving, and to always wear a seat belt.  

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