Kildare’s drivers of the future were given a sobering presentation on road safety in Newbridge on Wednesday last, 23 May.
Around 500 Transition Year, Leaving Cert Applied and Youthreach members from all over the county attended the annual AXA and Kildare County Council Road Safety roadshow at the Keadeen Hotel.
Students were stunned into silence by the hard-hitting show, with members of Kildare’s emergency services urging them to be aware of the dangers on the road.
The young audience was first introduced to 17-year-old “Sean”, a fictitious character who had just passed his driving test and was excited to be taking his girlfriend out that night.
A dramatisation video then showed Sean crashing his car, with his girlfriend in the passenger seat. Afterwards, Garda Donal Buckley from Naas Traffic Corps; Paramedic Tony Kelly from the HSE National Ambulance Service, based in Phoenix Park; Fire Officer Frank McGiff from Kildare Fire Service and Dr George Little, A&E Consultant at Naas General Hospital each explained in graphic detail how they would deal with such a crash.
“Don’t give your parents a neverending heartache” was Fire Officer McGiff’s concluding message to the students.
The hardest-hitting part of the event was delivered by Dr Little. He showed the students five photos of injuries suffered in road accidents. A few students had to leave the auditorium at this point, so shocking were the images. Members of Kildare Civil Defence were on hand to look after these students.
The final speaker was Dolores Harris from Maganey in Athy. In December 2005, her two sons Mikey and David were killed in an accident half a mile from her home, along with their friend Fintan Lalor who was a passenger in the car.
Mrs Harris spoke of how she has had to “live with a constant anguish and sorrow” since the accident. Her husband Michael died in 2008 and Mrs Harris said it was due to a broken heart.
The presentation ended on a slightly more positive note, with Mayor of Kildare Michael “Spike” Nolan hoping to keep the number of fatalities on Kildare roads at zero in 2012. By this time last year, there had been five.
“The biggest celebration we can have is to keep that figure at zero,” he said. Unfortunately, two days after the roadshow, on Friday 25 May, a 31-year-old man was killed in an accident at Kilmore, the first death on Kildare’s roads this year.
Speaking to the Leinster Leader after the show, Kildare Road Safety Officer Declan Keogh said: “Hopefully the impression the students got from the show will be long-lasting for them. It’s a very hard-hitting programme. It’s amazing to see the students’ reaction before the show and then afterwards.”
Mr Keogh revealed that he would like to see the roadshow held twice a year so it could reach more than the 500 students present.
Commenting on her speech at the event, Dolores Harris explained: “I will do anything so that somebody else won’t have to go through what I do. Maybe just one person will have listened to what we said and it’s a life that’s saved.”