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“I didn’t want to see my reflection” – road crash survivor Gráinne Kealy’s story



Having suffered severe injuries following a road traffic collision, Gráinne had to have her forehead surgically removed.

The notion that it only takes a split second for a road crash to occur is likely something you have heard about before. Be it taking your eyes off the road for a brief moment as a driver or not looking both ways when crossing the road, it’s incredibly easy to let your focus drift from the dangers of the road.

When Gráinne Kealy was sitting inside a car with her feet resting on the dashboard, as is so often done by many of us, she could not have been aware of the fact that her life was about to change forever. An impact to the front of the vehicle caused the airbag to be deployed, which in turn pushed her knees straight towards her face.

This caused severe injuries to her head, eventually resulting in surgeons being left with no option but to have her forehead removed. As a result of such a major procedure, Gráinne spent the next two years extremely susceptible to brain injury.

“For two years, I had no forehead and that’s definitely something I’ll never forget. I don’t think it’s something you could ever get used to,” Gráinne says.

“I had a face that I didn’t want to look at, I didn’t want to see my reflection,” she adds.

The crash itself could have easily resulted in only minor injuries, but the fact that her feet were resting on the dash at the point of impact is what resulted in it being so severe. Forensic Collision Investigator Garda Anastasia Murphy says that single factor played an enormous role in the severity of those injuries.

“It was a fairly simple crash, Gráinne could easily have walked out of that with a bit of soreness and say ‘oh, goodness,’ but the defining factor of that crash was Gráinne’s feet up on the dashboard at the moment of impact.

“There was no possible way she could have removed her feet in time. That airbag deployed at over 300km per hour and pushed her feet and her knees into her face,” Garda Murphy says.

You can hear Gráinne’s story in her own words by watching the video below, as well as listen to her family members explain the long-term impact that crash has had on all of their lives.

Vision Zero

All of us have a shared responsibility to keep Ireland’s roads safe, and the new government Road Safety Strategy 2021 to 2030 aims to reduce road deaths and serious injuries by 50pc by 2023. It is also the first step towards achieving Vision Zero - to have zero deaths or serious injuries on the roads by 2050. Achieving this will require an acceptance of that shared responsibility, as well as greater acceptance of the small behavioural changes we can make to make it a reality.

Vision Zero is achievable. We have seen road deaths drop by almost 70pc in the years since the first road safety strategy was launched in 1998. Making Vision Zero a reality starts now, by adopting safer road user habits now.

To find out more about Vision Zero and how we can all play a role in making Irish roads safer, visit the Road Safety Authority website here.

By working together and through sharing the responsibility of road safety, we can realise the vision of zero deaths and serious injuries on Ireland’s roads.