Brother of crash victim urges tired drivers to take rest

RSA Driver Stuart Porteous, pictured at the launch of the Road Safety Authority's August Bank Holiday Weekend Driver fatigue campaign "STOP, SIP, SLEEP Campaign" held in Dublin. The Road Safety Authority and An Garda Siochana jointly launch

Paul Healy

THE brother of a man who died in a horrific car crash has appealed for people to take a rest before they drive.

Fran Mitchell, from Greystones, Co Wicklow, was killed in a car crash just minutes from his home in July 2005.

According to his brother, Charlie Mitchell, Fran was tired after working a late shift.

"Fran had a very busy lifestyle and we would say 'you should be resting'," Charlie said.

"But we never thought that this would happen, we never thought of the physical consequences."

Fran (27) was returning home from the cinema at 1am on July 23, 2005, when he fell asleep at the wheel.


His car crashed into a wall, killing him instantly.

"The main injuries were on his head," Charlie said. "He had a crushed rib cage and he bled out instantly."

The family spent months awaiting news from the coroner, who eventually ruled that Fran had died as a result of falling asleep at the wheel.

"It's so hard to have someone around today and tomorrow they're gone," Charlie said.

"There is no time to grieve, no time to say goodbye."

Charlie said if he had to give advice to drivers who are tired, it would be "turn the car off".

"There is no point in only making it half way," he said.

Charlie is re-telling his brother's tragic story as part of a new campaign by the Road Safety Authority to make people aware of the dangers of driving while feeling drowsy.

Over the past five years, 12 people have been killed and 27 seriously injured on Irish roads.

One-in-five of these deaths is believed to have happened because of driver fatigue.

The RSA will be screening a new TV ad campaign, Signs, in the lead-up to the bank holiday weekend.

The RSA said if a driver feels tired, they should stop their car, have a caffeinated drink and take a 15-minute power nap.

A spokesman clarified it is important to take the caffeine before the nap, "as it takes 20 minutes for it to kick in".

"That way when the driver wakes up they are fully ready and get that extra boost from the caffeine," he said.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe asked people to "recognise the signs" of tiredness to ensure that the bank holiday "is free from tragedy".