A child has been killed on the North’s roads every month for the last decade, police statistics revealed today.
With 141 under-16s dying and 1,967 serious injuries, campaigners called for fresh legislation on road safety.
The toll has been blamed by lobbyists on direct-rule government, speeding drivers and young people failing to use seat belts or pay attention as pedestrians.
Ernie McCurdy from the Road Safety Council said: “You can’t quantify the cost, the personal losses as well as the anguish, pain and suffering to the victims and their next of kin.
“We are calling for an all-party committee to be set up if the Assembly is restored dealing specifically with road safety and we want to see this happen sooner rather than later.
“We are in a political vacuum with civil servants essentially setting policy and direct rule ministers have many portfolios and there are a number of initiatives which need to be taken.”
Northern Ireland is the worst region in the UK for road deaths.
The British government’s Road Safety Strategy sets targets for 2012 to reduce road deaths and serious injuries by 33% and child fatalities and serious injuries by 50% from the average for the five-year period of 1996 to 2000.
The North is on course to meet that benchmark. Road deaths cost the economy around £400m (€596.9m) a year.
Mr McCurdy added: “In Great Britain local councils have responsibility for road safety in their own areas as 80% of the roads are under their control.”
There have also been calls for an increase in the number of road safety officers in the North.
The largest number of deaths was in 2000/2001 with 163. Last year there were 134.
A survey by roads charity Brake found 50% of children crossed roads using their mobiles, while 80% stepped out while talking to friends.
SDLP roads spokeswoman Margaret Ritchie said refresher courses should be introduced for drivers after 20 years.
“We are campaigning for a single roads authority like the have in the Republic of Ireland working with the police service to reduce accident levels,” she said.
“We need measures to ensure that people drive more safely with less speed and wear seat belts.”