How we can all help reward the 'unsung heroes' of road safety
It's 'leading lights' time of the year again and you can nominate yours now, explains our RSA expert
Published 12/10/2016 | 02:30
Over the past few years, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and its partners have worked hard to remind people that the roads are a shared space. By and large, the message seems to be resonating with most people.
Road deaths have decreased by more than half in the past decade.
This doesn't take away from the terrible tragedies we have seen on the roads in recent weeks, but equally it's important to recognise that the majority of road-users now understand the choices they make on the roads impact others.
The RSA is an organisation of just more than 300 people working hard to deliver road safety goals. We work closely with individuals and groups in communities nationwide to ensure they are educated about the causes of collisions on our roads.
We provide them with resources and tools to implement better practices in their schools, universities, clubs and workplaces.
This community engagement is an integral part of the work we do. It reminds us that there are people around the country who are as passionate about road safety as we are.
It also brings us into contact with hundreds of people who are quietly but effectively doing their bit for road safety.
Such as the men and women who don high visibility jackets to direct traffic before and after local matches.
Or the teacher who, having spotted the increase in children cycling to school, takes it upon himself to give lessons to them in his spare time.
Or the students who lobby their local council to make it safer for their school-mates to get to and from school.
Very often, you and I will never hear of these efforts to keep our roads safe. That's because the people behind them aren't looking for praise or reward, they're doing it quietly, simply to make our roads safer for all of us.
We are fortunate to have so many road safety ambassadors in our communities.
A number of years ago, we sat down as a team to come up with a way to recognise their work and to let them know their efforts had not gone unnoticed.
And so the RSA's Annual 'Leading Lights in Road Safety' Awards was established. Now in its ninth year, it has become one of our most important events.
Last year, we handed out 24 awards to businesses, driving instructors, journalists, schoolchildren, individuals and clubs for their efforts to improve safety on our roads.
Among the winners was Donna Price of the Irish Road Victims' Association (IRVA) who was named 'Road Safety Ambassador' for her work to provide families and those affected by collisions with counselling and support.
Donna founded IRVA following the death of her son Darren in 2006 when he was involved in a collision with a lorry. Since then, she has tirelessly represented the victims of road collisions at national and EU forums.
Two students from Mayo, Aoibheann Mangan and Padraic Godwin, won the 'Education (Primary)' Award. They developed a website with advice on farm, road, fire and water safety and even developed 'Rules of the Road' specific to the rural area they live in.
Tom MacSharry had just retired after 16 years' service as a school traffic warden in Sligo when we presented him with a 'Special Recognition' Award. Tom taught the students he met every day valuable life lessons on road safety, and helped to instil in them a respect for the roads.
There are people like Donna, Aoibheann, Padraig and Tom living and working in communities everywhere. We need your help to find these 'unsung heroes' of road safety so that we can give them the recognition they deserve.
* Nominate your leading light at www.rsa.ie/leadinglights by November 1.