The Rose of Tralee, Maria Walsh from Shrule, has spoken out about the devastating consequenes of road carnage on families and communities as part of a new Valentine’s Day themed road safety campaign.
Ms Walsh teamed up with Mayo County Council’s road safety officer, Noel Gibbons, to tell young people to swap chocolates and flowers this Valentine’s Day for a much more precious gift - by changing their driving habits to save lives.
As part of the campaign, Ms Walsh spoke about the death of her 19-year-old cousin Teresa Molloy, and three other young women, in a horrific road accident five years ago near Milltown, Co Galway.
“Experiencing the loss of a loved one at any time of year is difficult, but losing someone over unsafe driving during a holiday season is unnecessary heartbreak,” said the Rose of Tralee.
“Families are broken, friendships are lost, and our Mayo communities are left with a dark cloud.
“I lost the greatest asset to our family; my cousin Theresa, and with her loss we witnessed three other communities left with a dark cloud, many friendships lost and families broken.”
The Valentine’s road safety campaign is highlighting the fact that young male drivers are the most likely to have accidents while more young women are killed as passengers in cars than as drivers.
According to Mr Gibbons, speed is a major contributing factor in a third of fatal car crashes and research has shown that even small reductions in average speeds results in significant road safety benefits
In the run-up to what is considered the most romantic day of the year, the campaign is urging young men to take care while driving, particularly when they have their loved ones in the car with them and to ‘raise their right foot’ and reduce their speed in a gesture of love this Valentine’s Day.