Saturday 22 September 2018

'You don't have to be a rally driver' - man left with life-changing injuries after crash has a message for young drivers

Richard Alcorn, from Dunfanaghy, Co. Donegal pictured after receiving the Gertie Shields Supreme Award at the Annual Road Safety Authority Leading Lights Awards ceremony held in Croke Park, Dublin. Pic. Robbie Reynolds
Richard Alcorn, from Dunfanaghy, Co. Donegal pictured after receiving the Gertie Shields Supreme Award at the Annual Road Safety Authority Leading Lights Awards ceremony held in Croke Park, Dublin. Pic. Robbie Reynolds
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

A Donegal man who was left with life-altering injuries following a car crash when he was just a teenager has dedicated his life to helping young people stay safe on the roads, telling them "you don't have to be a rally driver".

Richard Alcorn was just 19 when, in 2006, he was left with horrific injuries following a collision near his hometown Dunfanaghy, Co Donegal.

Following the accident Richard had his right arm amputated below his elbow and has also been left with a number of other permanent side effects, including a loss of power in his lower right leg. 

He now takes part in road safety events as part of Donegal County Council's Road Safety Show in a bid to urge soon-to-be drivers to be safe while on the road.

The accident was a two car collision which occurred while Richard was on his way home from work.

"I don't remember the accident," he said, adding that he was rushed to hospital in Letterkenny first before being transferred to the Mater Hospital in Dublin. He then began months in rehabilitation in the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire.

As a result of the crash he was left with broken legs, knees, ankles, hips, pelvis, back, neck, jaw and ribs.

"Everything was broken," he said.

He also damaged arteries in the accident.

In the 11 years since the accident has has undergone several major surgeries, including hip replacements.

"To be honest it's still ongoing," he said of his recovery.

"It's 11 years and it's still ongoing and probably will be from some years," he said.

His own accident came just a year after he lost his cousin and best friend in a crash, which added to his motivation to spread the message of road safety.

He has spoken in front of hundreds of teens and said he has a simple message for them.

"It's just getting the message out there that they are not the only one on the road once they get on the road. Take your time, think about who is coming towards toy. It could be anything from a bicycle to an arctic lorry," he said.

"It's really about thinking and understanding you don't have to be a rally driver once you get on the road. Get out there, get a bit of experience, experience is key.

"Just take your time," he added.

He said he hopes the road safety event is having an impact.

"Looking at the numbers in the likes of Donegal, the numbers (of lives lost on the roads) do seem to be going down," he said.

"It seems to be making a difference."

Speaking earlier this year, Road Safety Authority (RSA) spokesman Brian Farrell said that while Donegal has previously been seen as an accident blackspot, the statistics show it is not the county with the most road fatalities. While 10 people were killed on the roads in Donegal last year, there were 13 road fatalities in Tipperary, 17 in Limerick and 10 in Galway.

Richard was recently awarded a "Leading Light" award by the RSA for his activism in promoting road safety.

The judges had high praise for him on the day.

"The way in which Richard has dedicated his life to road safety is truly inspirational," they said.

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