No acceptable level of road deaths: says DoE minister

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A Derry MLA said there is no acceptable level of road deaths.

The SDLP’s Mark H Durkan, who is the current Environment Minister, was speaking after a package of new measures to improve road safety was passed by the Assembly.

The new Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill will see stricter drink driving laws, tougher police powers for breath tests, night restrictions on young drivers carrying passengers and a mandatory minimum period for learning to drive before taking the test.

He said: “Last year seventy four people lost their lives on our roads. We cannot, if at all possible, let this carnage continue. What I have done in this Bill is to get to the root causes of the problem. That means tougher drink drive laws. That means ensuring our new drivers are better drivers. That means putting less young people at risk in the hands of novice drivers.”

On drink driving, the Bill will provide for two new lower drink driving limits, the lowest of which will apply to novice and professional drivers. It also provides for a graduated penalty scheme where the penalty for an individual offence reflects the amount of alcohol involved. In addition, it gives the police powers to establish roadside checkpoints to provide for more routine breath checking.

Minister Durkan added: “It is a fact that almost all casualties on our roads are caused by poor road user behaviour... Ultimately however, each of us must take personal responsibility for our behaviour on the roads.”