Be careful out there!

In researching old newspaper archives I was struck by the modern resonance with how busy and dangerous the roads were years ago. Several local newspaper reports recorded road traffic accidents in 1959:

A road traffic accident at the Shandon Park / Sandown Road junction. The Belfast News-Letter reported in May 1959: ‘the scene of a collision between a sports car and a saloon yesterday’. Looking at newspaper archives from this period reveals the occurrence of much press coverage of road accidents as private vehicle usage was significantly on the increase during the post-war period. A reasonable crowd seems to have gathered at the scene.









A resident of Kensington Gardens South was driving in Belfast and was in collision with a bus. His car was badly damaged. The Belfast News-Letter reported that the driver was in the Royal Victoria Hospital and ‘ill but comfortable’.












But not all the road hazards were caused by drivers.  The Belfast Telegraph reported on 23rd November 1959: ‘Shock for Belfast Motorist – a driver had a narrow escape when a water main burst at Knock. The roadway was flooded over a wide area at Knock Road corner yesterday morning when a water main burst. Mr John Roddy of Upper Newtownards Road was not aware of the crater caused by the eruption and had a shock when his car tilted precariously into the hole.’ 

Knock Road looks rather narrow and has yet to reach its current width.











What has been the recent experience in the RACKS area?

One concerned RACKS citizen recently commented:

‘The traffic at the Junction of Sandown Road and Shandon Park has become very dangerous particularly at peak times such as when turning right into Shandon Park from the Knock Road.

Cars go through red lights and I have been nearly run into on several occasions recently. Also going through the lights from Shandon Park onto the Sandown road, cars turning right onto the Knock Road from the Sandown Road seem to think they have right of way and again on several occasions I have been nearly run over on several occasions. I wonder if any other residents have experienced this?’

Another concerned RACKS citizen commented:

‘I’m becoming increasingly concerned about the dangerous crossroads between the A55 Knock Road and Shandon Park/Sandown Road.  

During the first Lockdown there was a significant decrease in traffic using Knock Road, but recently there seems to be more traffic than ever. Many cars ignore the 30mph speed limit, cross the junction when the lights are amber, and even accelerate to get across when they are red. This is very alarming for drivers waiting in the middle of the A55 while the lights are green, for an opportunity to turn right into Shandon Park. There have been many accidents and near-misses.

Another problem for Shandon Park residents is finding an opportunity to turn left onto Knock Road, as motorists coming up Sandown Road often don’t signal, and assume that they have priority to turn right onto Knock Road. The lack of signalling makes turning right from Shandon Park onto Knock Road equally hazardous.

A green filter for traffic turning right from Knock Road into Shandon Park, or an adjustment to the timing of the lights would probably both help, but it seems no changes will be considered until road widening is carried out. 

I hope that Roads Service will not wait until there is a fatal accident before taking action’.


According to the official publication entitled ‘Police Recorded Injury Road Traffic Collisions and Casualties Northern Ireland’ the comparison between the statistics 1959 and 2020 were as follows:

Year Injury Collisions Killed Injured Total Casualties
2020 4223 56 6431 6487
1959 3992 156 5068 5224


For Belfast the statistics are:

Year Injury Collisions Killed Injured Total Casualties
2020 * 3 1448 1451

Total road traffic casualties in Northern Ireland have significantly increased in 2020 as compared with 1959. Fatalities have reduced although injuries have increased.


Any reports of accidents at the junction can be submitted to RACKS via our website. Please let us have details of date, time, incident and/or injuries, plus any accidents or near misses.


RACKS TRACKS by Aidan Campbell

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