Recession 'helped cut road deaths'

Although the recession has caused much financial pain for many people, it may have also had some benefits - such as helping road deaths in Northern Ireland reach an 80-year low.

According to the Road Victims Trust, a combination of the recession and bad weather meant fewer people were driving last year - resulting in just 55 deaths on the roads in the country.

Tony Parker, chief executive of the trust, said: "One of the factors is that there is a lot less traffic on the roads because of the recession and people have to pay more for fuel."

He added that people were more likely to use more cost-effective means of transport.

Other contributing factors to the fall in the number of deaths on the roads were improvements in safety mechanisms such as anti-lock breaking systems (ABS) and air bags in cars, increased wearing of seatbelts and better design of cars, something thatcar insurance companies will be pleased to learn.

Environment minister Edwin Poots revealed that 55 people were killed on Northern Ireland roads in 2010, the lowest since records began in 1931. That is 60 fewer than the previous year, representing a 50% fall in fatalities and a 20% reduction in serious injuries.

In 2000, 171 people were killed and over the past decade this has steadily declined.

Mr Parker said seasonal factors also needed to be considered.

"Because of the bad weather there is less traffic on the road and people are a lot more careful," he said.

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