We owe it to victims of tragedies to change our ways
Next Sunday is Remembrance Day for Road Traffic Victims and our RSA expert says...
SINCE we began recording road fatalities the number of people that have died on our roads is equal to the population of Tralee, Co Kerry. That's 23,401 people who have died on Irish roads since 1959.
Roughly the population of Galway, 76,129, have suffered serious, life-changing injuries since 1977, the year we began recording these figures.
The sheer size of the casualty toll is staggering. The devastation these incidents wreak on victims, their families, friends and communities is incalculable. Sadly, the tragedy is worsened by the fact that it is mainly the young and healthy, those in the prime of life and supporting their families, who are killed or seriously injured.
While road deaths are counted in the year they occur, a family remains bereaved forever. The bereaved are not counted or included in road traffic injury data. Many others remain deeply affected by the loss of a friend, colleague, neighbour or member of the community.
The effect on the gardai, firemen and women, ambulance paramedics, and doctors and nurses, whose work involves facing the consequences of crashes on a daily basis, is also profound. Road traffic fatalities and injuries leave shattered families and communities behind.
Last November, the RSA created a Wall of Remembrance on its Facebook page. Since then, thousands of people have posted a tribute to a loved one killed on the road.
I would encourage you to visit it. To post a message of your own or just to read the poignant notes left there. Some simply say that while their friend, relative or colleague is gone, they are not forgotten. Others are more personal and truly heart-breaking to read. It is clear from the words written that despite the passage of time, the pain and suffering caused by their loss is still as raw today as it was when the tragedy occurred. The most difficult to read are those that remember a child killed on the road.
As you read the short testimonials, you try to picture what these people were like, what their interests were.
These were real people who had hopes and dreams, people who had futures. And then you realise with sadness that they are gone. Many of the posts are signed off: "Taken from us all too soon."
Reading the messages brings home the scale of the tragedy for far too many families as a result of road collisions.
It reminds us that our lives are held by the thinnest of threads, lifelines that can be cut in a split second on the road.
The point of the Wall of Remembrance is to make sure that those killed on our roads do not fade from our memories. They are not statistics, they are real people and out of respect we must not let their deaths be in vain.
The United Nations took the same view when they declared the third Sunday in November 'World Remembrance Day for Road Traffic Victims'.
We will join members of An Garda Siochana, local county councils, emergency services and victim support groups to mark World Remembrance Day for Road Traffic Victims this Sunday, November 17.
There are lots of events and ceremonies taking place around the country to mark the day.
But is there something you can do, to mark the day and to make the roads safer? If we all made a very small change, it would make a big difference. We owe this much to the victims and their families.