When we are rolling out a new road safety campaign it can be a solemn affair. And rightly so. When we are talking about lives lost or shattered, it's a serious occasion.
However, there is one event in our yearly calendar when we can celebrate and smile. The event is our Leading Lights in Road Safety Awards. It recognises the work of individuals and groups around the country who promote road safety.
The work they do often goes unnoticed and unrecognised. The awards are designed to rectify this and give credit to these unsung heroes of road safety who give so much to save lives, prevent injuries and bring communities together.
Some of the individuals and projects recognised in the past are truly inspiring. Last year we presented the Supreme Award to a very special person, Gertie Shields.
Gertie founded 'Mothers Against Drink Driving', known as MADD, in 1986, and tirelessly campaigned on road safety since she lost her daughter in a road traffic collision caused by a drink driver in 1983.
Over the years, Gertie has achieved much in road safety legislative and social change through her campaigning and lobbying.
She was campaigning for change at a time when the majority of people believed it was sill okay to drink and drive, and there wasn't the appetite there is now to change our drink driving laws. By telling her personal story, she kept road safety in the spotlight.
Cork primary school Scoil Chlochair Mhuire was also recognised for its work last year. A rise in the number of road safety incidents prompted the school to come up with 'Operation Safe Home' to improve safety at the school gate.
The school partnered with their local Gardaí, Cork County Council and lollipop lady, to devise and plan the logistics of introducing the system at the school.
Scoil Chlochair Mhuire has increased road safety awareness and there has been a marked decrease in road traffic incidences when the children are leaving the school.
I was really impressed by the secondary students of Mount St Michael and their road safety project. Following the death of a fellow pupil and learner driver, students from the school got together to discuss raising awareness and visibility of learner drivers on the roads.
They designed a more visible and reflective 'L' plate for learner drivers that would increase learner driver's visibility at night and increase the confidence of the learner driver.
The reflective 'L' Plates were sold across Ireland and 10pc of the profits benefited the National Rehabilitation Hospital.
Last year we also acknowledged the work of Mizen Rovers, an underage GAA club situated at the far end of the Mizen peninsula, approximately 130km from Cork city. The club developed a programme called 'Care For Our Players', a three-pronged programme including Road Safety, Health and Wellbeing, and Jobs and Enterprise.
The road safety element of the programme was prompted following a lucky escape in a collision by a number of the club's 17 and 18 year old players. Around the same time, other young GAA players in another part of the country had not been so lucky and had lost their lives in a collision.
The image of the coffins draped with the club jerseys prompted someone to remark that something needed to be done about keeping jerseys on players' backs, not on coffins.
The programme involves a number of different activities, including bringing the younger players to a local driving academy to learn more about driving and road safety.
Stark road safety messages were put up in the team dressing rooms and exits as reminders. Road safety has become part of the club's culture.
Maybe you know of someone in the community who has done something beyond the call of duty to make the roads safer?
If you do, why not honour their work by nominating them for a Leading Light in Road Safety Award?
The call for entries is open and awards will be presented to businesses, educational organisations, media, community groups, and public services who have demonstrated a commitment to keeping the roads free from tragedy at an awards ceremony in Farmleigh House on Wednesday 10th December. Information on the categories and how to nominate a 'Leading Light', as well as entry forms, are available at www.rsa.ie/leadinglights