A shocking, upsetting and vitally important message is being brought home to over 2,500 Donegal students this week during the Road Safe Road Show.
The Aura Leisure Centre was buzzing with chat and laughter this morning when the first groups of students arrived from post-primary schools all over Donegal.
By the end of the hour-long show, the hall was almost silent.
The students had heard hard-hitting stories of road accidents and fatalities from local emergency service workers, a road crash survivor and from a mother who had lost her beloved daughter.
Denise Harley, mother of the late Kym Harley from Ballybofey, talked about the anguish of losing her daughter in a collision in 2014.
“She had so much to live for,” Denise told the crowd. Speaking on the eve of Kym’s birthday, 9th October, Denise said: “Please don’t let that be you, that your mum or dad has to stand at your grave.”
The Road Show also featured Lizzie Keys, from Tyrone, who was paralysed as a result of an accident at the age of 19. Life is precious, Lizzie told the students, as she warned them that split-second decisions can change a life forever.
Representatives of An Garda Siochana, the Fire Service, Ambulance Service and Emergency Department at Letterkenny University Hospital gave eye-opening insights on the emotional and often graphic realities of attending a crash scene. Their stories were linked by a fictional account of a young local man who had just passed his driving test. But on the night of his celebrations, his dangerous driving led to a crash which took his girlfriend’s life and left him permanently injured.
The authorities, medics and emergency workers also talked about how real accidents impact them personally. Their shared view was that they hoped drivers would heed the warnings so that they would never have to attend senseless crashes ever again.
The Road Safe Road Show continues on Tuesday 9th October. The event has been attended by more than 30,000 students since it began in Donegal in 2007.
The Road Safe Road Show is a unique partnership between Donegal County Council and members of the Donegal Road Safety Working Group which provides a platform to positively influence the driving behaviour of young students as they commence their driving careers or who travel as passengers in cars.
Road Safety Officer Brian O’Donnell said: “We need to get the message to all road users that before they get into a car with a driver who exceeds the speed limit, or someone who may be under the influence of drink, or who has taken drugs, or by not wearing their seatbelts, or who use their mobile phone while driving; to stop and think, because the devastation and heartbreak that is brought on your family and on the local community as a result of a road traffic collision is totally avoidable.”