Unanimous backing for new road safety drive

Scenes from a hard hitting educational roadshow aimed at teenage drivers  staged recently in the north. Picture: Michael Cooper.
Scenes from a hard hitting educational roadshow aimed at teenage drivers staged recently in the north. Picture: Michael Cooper.
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Derry & Strabane Council is to request that government ministers roll out a new road safety drive.

The move was unanimously backed by Councillors at their Full Council meeting in Derry on Thursday.

Alderman Maurice Devenney. INLS1216-126KM

Alderman Maurice Devenney. INLS1216-126KM

During the meeting, Independent Councillor Maurice Devenney tabled a motion calling on the Council to “support a road safety initiative being carried out in the Council area and that we write to the relevant Ministers within the NI Assembly requesting that the Departments lead and promote such an initiative”.

An amendment to the motion from SDLP Councillor Angela Dobbins to the effect that the Council support the initiatives by the Foyle and District Road Safety Committee and that the Ministers lead both locally and regionally on road safety awareness, was also unanimously adopted.

Speaking to his motion, Colr. Devenney paid tribute to the ongoing work locally of the Foyle and District Road Safety Committee.

He added that additional awareness campaigns around issues such as speeding, mobile phone usage and texting while driving would be welcome.

“As I drive the roads each day there seems to be a disregard for these regulations,” he said.

He said that the PSNI, while being proactive, had resourcing issues, and that there was an onus on the Council to also get involved in promoting awareness, as well as an onus on every person who gets into a car to drive to do so safely.

He added that there seemed to be no immediate support for those who are involved or witness road tragedies, and that this could lead to psychological problems, with up to a three months waiting list for counselling.

“I do believe that is unacceptable,” he said, adding:

“Now that we are coming into the dark evenings we need to promoting more awareness.

“If this saves one life on the roads, at the end of the day this is what it is all about.”

He also called for the local council to replicate events held in Donegal, where hundreds of young drivers are brought together to discuss road safety awareness and road safety concerns.

Colr. Devenney also praised the work of local man Christopher Sherrard, who has been involved in road safety awareness campaigns after losing his father in a road accident.

Colr. Dobbins meanwhile praised the devotion of Foyle and District Road Safety Committee, made up of volunteers and statutory bodies, including the three emergency services and cross party councillors, in helping to save countless lives over its 50 years in operation and in promoting road safety locally.

“Foyle and District Road Safety Committee continues to achieve awareness of road safety through education, engineering and enforcement,” she said, adding:

“The ability to reduce road casualties lies with each and every one of us, be it as a pedestrian, cyclist, car, bus or lorry driver. We all have a responsibility to exercise road sense.”

DUP Councillor David Ramsey, who sits on the Foyle & District Road Safety Committee, seconded the motion, and also praised Christopher Sherrard and his brother Ryan for raising awareness.

He revealed that Christopher Sherrard has now been proposed and accepted as a new member of the Committee, and has been invited into Stormont to speak at a round table event in November. “He will be a great asset to the committee,” Colr. Ramsey said.

Sinn Fein Councillor Eric McGinley said the local Policing and Community Safety Partnership in conjunction with the Policing Board would be hosting an event locally at the end of November, and prior to this there will be a roadshow on road safety with 450 post-primary students invited to take part.