The students of an enterprising girls’ national school in Co. Louth who tackled the use of mobile phones by their parents in cars have been awarded the Road Safety Authority (RSA) ‘Gertie Shields Supreme Award’ in road safety for 2018. The award was presented to students from Castletown Girls National School by RSA Chairperson Liz O’Donnell at the 11th annual ‘Leading Lights in Road Safety’ Awards at Croke Park.
Having established a road safety committee in 2017 which convenes regularly to discuss ideas and initiatives, the students of Castletown Girls National School developed an illustrated car sticker to mark Road Safety Week 2018 featuring the slogan ‘keep me safe, phones can wait’ which targeted parents who use their mobile phones while driving. The stickers were available to purchase in local shops and students took on the role of ‘mobile phone sheriff’ to discourage their parents from using mobile phones while driving.
A total of 21 awards were presented by the RSA to individuals and organisations in recognition of their commitment and dedication to road safety at a ceremony in Croke Park. Master of Ceremonies at the event, RTÉ’s How’s Your Driving? presenter Simon Delaney oversaw awards presented in categories including media, education, business, emergency services and public sector.
Minister of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross TD said: “Congratulations to everyone who received an award today and on behalf of all road users, thank you for your commitment and dedication to making our roads safer. I’d like to particularly commend the students and teachers of Castletown Girls National School, Dundalk, for their hard work promoting road safety within their community. Their efforts to educate family and friends through various road safety initiatives, especially tackling the issue of mobile phone usage by parents, is why they are deserving of the RSA Leading Lights in Road Safety Supreme Award.”
Ms Liz O’Donnell, Chairperson of the RSA presented the awards, saying: “Each year, these awards allow us to recognise those who are doing their utmost to keep our local communities safe and educate others on the importance of road safety. I would like to thank all those who nominated individuals, community groups or businesses in this year’s awards, and especially this year’s winners, for their incredible and inspiring work and efforts to make our roads, and in turn, our communities, a safer place for everyone.”
Ms Moyagh Murdock, Chief Executive of the Road Safety Authority said: “We received over a hundred nominations across the Leading Lights awards categories this year. The quality of the submissions was excellent, making it a very difficult job for the independent judges to select a winner in each category. I’d like to thank everyone who put themselves or someone in their school, office or community forward for an award. It is great to hear about the special projects and initiatives that are being carried out around the country to promote road safety.”
Two other individuals who were directly impacted by road traffic collisions were also honoured at the awards ceremony. Barry Murphy who was involved in a serious road traffic collision in 2006 and now delivers a road safety education programme to students soon to embark on their learning to drive journey, was named as Road Safety Ambassador for 2018. Separately, Joan Doherty, whose daughter Kellie was killed in a road traffic collision in 2005, was the Education – Secondary winner for her work with Donegal’s Road Safe Roadshow which has involved her delivering her personal testimony to over 30,000 students to date.
The judging panel also decided to make a Special Recognition Award to retired Garda Maurice McCabe. Maurice has helped to ensure drivers with bad driving behaviours receive their due penalties, thereby helping to keep our roads safe for all of our families. He is being recognised as a Leading Light in road safety for all the work he has done in bringing the cancellation of penalty points to light and helping to bring about reform.
Other winners in the Education Award categories include Dublin Institute of Technology which won the Third Level category for their College Awareness of Road Safety (CARS) project. The project involved students from various disciplines applying their subject knowledge to issues of road safety. The project, which has been in operation for 11 years, is entirely focused on applied research into road safety and raising awareness of road safety among vulnerable groups.
Meanwhile, Sergeant Dermot O’Connell of An Garda Síochána in Killarney took home an award in Emergency Services for his project ‘Operation Páistí’ which aims to address the serious lack of awareness among motorists about how to restrain children correctly in vehicles.
This year, ‘Leading Lights in Road Safety Awards’ were presented in the following categories:
- Approved Driving Instructor: Car – Ronan Bradley
- Approved Driving Instructor: Bus – Martin Mc Loughlin
- Approved Driving Instructor: Truck – Phelim Mc Quaid
- Approved Driving Instructor: Motorcycle – Anthony Moore
- CPC Training Organisation of the Year – Safety Alliance & Training Ltd
- CPC Trainer of the Year – James J Keogh
- Road Safety Officer – Caroline Casey
- Business Award – Road Safety Ireland
- Special Recognition – Maurice McCabe
- Education (Pre-Primary) – First Steps Preschool
- Education (Primary) – Castletown Girls National School
- Education (Secondary) – Joan Doherty
- Education (Third Level) – College Awareness of Road Safety (CARS) Project – Dublin Institute of Technology
- Education (Community) – Bikers Shed
- Education (Special) – National Learning Network & RehabCare, Bray
- Emergency Services – Sergeant Dermot O’Connell
- Future Award – CycleSafe 2000
- Local Media – Shannonside FM newsroom
- Public Sector – Michael Burke, Inland Fisheries Ireland
- Road Safety Ambassador – Barry Murphy