Monday 26 August 2019

Remember this heartache as you get behind wheel

We witness bad driving every day that has the potential to cause lifelong hurt

VICTIM: Vanessa Siatka died before her second birthday
VICTIM: Vanessa Siatka died before her second birthday

Campbell Spray

Last Monday we were driving out for a coffee at 10am before taking the dog for a walk in Phoenix Park. There was little traffic about, but going up Cabra Road we found ourselves behind a Mondeo that kept drifting out across the road.

At the traffic lights it went across the red light, then blocked oncoming traffic as it tried to turn right.

The day before we were making good progress on the M50 to North Wicklow when we hit a bit of a jam, probably caused by the brilliant weather and people flocking to the beaches.

It was very stop-start for a little time, clearing for a while when good progress could be made and then suddenly you would almost have to pull up as you hit a tailback.

There was some wild driving. People were constantly moving in and out of lanes to gain fractional advantage. But the biscuit, if not the whole tin, was taken by the woman who flew past us texting on her phone and was still doing so when forced to make a very sudden stop.

Last Friday I was walking to work when a car came fast up to the lights, the driver happily talking on his phone, which he was holding to his ear. He still was, when, one-handed, he turned right and sped off.

These were just three of many such actions I see every week - some worse than others but all with the potential to cause great hurt.

I really welcome that gardai have upped their detection rate of people using their phones while driving. However, the people caught are just a drop in the ocean of rule-breakers.

The same applies to those who take to the wheel semi- blotto from drinking or even the night before's bingeing.

When I go into Phoenix Park I am always reminded of this when we pass flowers left at the spot where little 23-month-old Vanessa Siatka was killed four years ago this month by a drunk driver who had a litre of vodka and two grams of cocaine.

Just remember the heartbreak that can be caused.

As Vanessa's mother, Katarzyna, said in her victim-impact statement: "In one moment we were happy, playing and enjoying ourselves in the park. In the next moment I hear the loud music, a loud engine and everything just happened so quickly.

"I couldn't do anything, only watch as my baby was taken away from me. For me, that was the moment time, and my heart, stopped.

"I prayed for her but as she lay on the road a small tear came from her eye and I knew in my heart that this was her last 'Goodbye, Mammy'."

Sunday Independent

Also in Life