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Donegal-based road safety programme wins Leading Lights in Road Safety’ Award

A Donegal-based road safety programme aimed at rehabilitating dangerous drivers has won the National Supreme Award at this year’s Road Safety Authority (RSA) ‘Leading Lights in Road Safety’ Awards.

Run by Gary Doggett and supported by Judge Paul Kelly and Garda Inspector Michael Harrison, the Pro-Social Drivers Programme is a driver rehabilitation programme which was established in 2012 to address the high instances of anti-social driving in Co Donegal. The programme consists of four modules; Emotional Control, Social Responsibility, Driving Under the Influence and Consequences. Referrals to the programme come from the Courts Service, the probation service, solicitors, concerned parents and individuals who recognise the need for training in this area. To date, 18 programmes have been completed with a total of 180 participants.

A total of 37 individuals and organisations were honoured for their commitment and dedication to road safety at the ninth annual ‘Leading Lights in Road Safety’ Awards which were presented by RSA Chairperson Liz O’Donnell and RSA Chief Executive Moyagh Murdock in Farmleigh today. MC for the day was RTÉ News Correspondent Teresa Mannion, with awards presented in categories including media, education, business, emergency services and public sector.

Ms Moyagh Murdock, Chief Executive of the Road Safety Authority said:

Ms Moyagh Murdock, Chief Executive of the Road Safety Authority

“Every year, we have the privilege of being able to recognise the ‘unsung heroes’ of road safety at the Leading Lights in Road Safety Awards. We at the RSA can’t tackle road safety alone, and so we rely on individuals, organisations and communities to act as ambassadors and advocates for road safety. What astounds me every year is the number of people – right around the country – who are taking personal responsibility for finding creative and workable solutions to the problems on our roads. Congratulations to everyone who received an award today and on behalf of everyone who uses the roads, thank you for your commitment and dedication to making them a safer place.”

Among the winners were Gillian, Ronan, Seán and Caoimhe Treacy – the family of Ciarán Treacy – and winners the ‘Road Safety Ambassador’ award. The family were given the award for their work to promote road safety following the death of led to the death of her beautiful son and brother Ciarán, aged four, who was killed in a collision with a drunk-driver in 2014. Since then, Gillian, Ronan and their family have been a powerful voice for the devastation caused by drink-driving. Recently, they featured in the latest ‘Crashed Lives’ ad by the Road Safety Authority, sharing their personal story in an effort to rid our roads of the scourge of drink-driving.

Also taking home the first ever ‘Judges’ Award for Technology and Innovation in Road Safety’ was Andrew Irwin. Following a conversation with his mother over Christmas break in 2014, Andrew created a road safety app that would detect when the user is driving and automatically set your phone to ‘drive mode’ as well as issue an auto response to those trying to contact the driver. The DriveSafe app was released to the Google Play Store in October 2015, and has since been downloaded nearly 50,000 times by 8,000 people in 123 countries.

RTÉ Radio One won the National Media award for their Documentary on One production, ‘We Decide Who Lives or Dies’. Following a number of news reports in early 2016 relating to driver behaviour – particularly in Donegal – reporter Ronan Kelly investigated the behaviour of young drivers in Donegal. The team recorded interviews with those who are working in the community to improve driver behaviour as well as among young drivers. In the week between their visits to Donegal, five people died on the roads around Letterkenny which gave the programme added relevance and poignancy.

In addition, an Education Award in the secondary school category was awarded to a project called ‘Take Care! Be Internationally Road Aware’, by students Aisha McAuliffe and Mark Lynes. Following a trip with her family to America, Aisha recognised that differences such as road markings and speed limits must be an issue for tourists when they come to Ireland. In May 2015, Aisha and Mark along with their teacher Derry Donovan, approached 18 car rental companies to gather data on what information these companies were providing to tourists and to find out what issues tourists face on Irish roads. From extensive research, the team produced a report, the findings of which were featured in an article in the Irish Examiner. Since then both Aisha and Mark interned with car rental company, Europcar, over the summer where they designed a blog and posted tips and advice for anyone traveling to Ireland.

Ms Liz O’Donnell, Chairperson of the RSA presented the awards, saying: “Every year, this special event gives us an opportunity to honour the people who are making a real difference in road safety. This year, the judging panel had a very difficult decision to make, as the quality of nominations and entries was extremely high. We were particularly struck by the number of individuals and groups around the country who are working on solutions to driver distraction: we had a huge number of technology-focused entries and we’re delighted to see this is an issue people are taking incredibly seriously. Once again, I am proud to be here today to present these awards to such extraordinary individuals and organisations. I thank you for the work that you do, every day, and for the example you set us all in keeping our roads free from death and injury.”

The RSA also presented 18 Special Recognition Awards to people who have demonstrated a commitment to road safety in their communities. Among the recipients were Christy Kelly, Gary Finlay, Patrice O’Connell, Emmet & Ciarán O’Mahony, Sgt Dave Lynam, Laois County Fire & Rescue Service and Mary Joyce were all awarded with Special Recognition Awards as emergency responders, medical professionals and laypeople who played a significant part in fighting to save Ciarán Treacy’s life after he was hit by a drunk driver. All of these honoured with Special Recognition Awards participated in the recent harrowing RSA ‘Crashed Lives’ campaign on drink driving.

Clodagh White was also honoured with a Special Recognition Award, as earlier this year Clodagh and her two children were involved in a serious road collision. Two days before, Clodagh had made contact with the RSA Check it Fits team regarding her child car seats. She was concerned they were not correctly fitted and wanted expert advice to ensure her child car seats were secure and her children safe. First responders on the scene told her that her child car seat had saved her child’s life. Since then, Clodagh has advocated and promoted the need to child car seats and encourages parents to ensure their child car seat is correctly fitted.

This year, ‘Leading Lights in Road Safety Awards’ were presented in the following categories:, Education (Preschool, Primary, Secondary, Third Level, Community), Business, Emergency Services, Local Media, National Media, Road Safety Ambassador, Public Sector, CPC Training Organisation of the Year, CPC Trainer of the Year, Approved Driving Instructor (Car, Bus, Motorcycle), the inaugural Judges Award for Technology & Innovation in Road Safety, and Special Recognition. The winners were as follows:

Business – Sixt Rent a Car, Dublin
Education (Community) – Pro Social Drivers Programme, Co Donegal
Education (Pre-School) – Kilcloon Preschool, Co Meath
Education (Primary) – St. Benin’s Girls National School, Duleek
Education (Secondary) – Take Care Be Internationally Aware, Coláiste Treasa Secondary School, Cork
Education (Third Level) – University of Limerick – Smarter Travel
Education (Special) – Sophie’s Journey Foundation
Emergency Services –  Community Policing Unit, Roxboro Road Garda Station, Co Limerick
Local Media – Give Your Phone the Boot – South East Radio
National Media – RTÉ Documentary on One, We Decide Who Lives or Dies
Road Safety Ambassador – Gillian & Ronan Treacy
Road Safety Officer – Declan Keogh, Kildare County Council
Public Sector – Cork City Fire Department
CPC Training Organisation of the Year – Flexibus, Co Meath
CPC Trainer of the Year – Jerry Meredith, Ice Training Solutions, Dublin
Judges Award in Technology and Innovation in Road Safety – Andrew Irwin, Drive Safe App
Approved Driving Instructor (Car) – James Malone
Approved Driving Instructor (Bus) – Joseph Lally
Approved Driving Instructor (Motorcycle) – Brian Mc Gonagle
Special Recognition Awards
Forbes Vigors, Transport Infrastructure Ireland
Learn Early Montessori Academy and Crèche
James Jones
The DRIVE Programme, Southill Outreach
Dr Ashraf Butt, Cavan & Monaghan Hospital
Inspector Edmund Golden
Michael Reade Show, LMFM Radio
Shaun Doherty Show, Highland Radio
Clodagh White
Fiona Brennan
Live to Play, Ulster GAA
Crashed Lives Awards
Christy Kelly
Gary Finlay
Patrice O’Connell
Emmet & Ciarán O’Mahony
Sgt Dave Lynam
Laois Fire & Rescue
Mary Joyce