'I broke every bone in my face' - RSA award winner urges people to keep feet off dashboard

'I broke every bone in my face' - RSA award winner urges people to keep feet off dashboard
Grainne Kealy with her RSA Award.

A road safety campaigner is urging people to keep their feet off the dashboard.

Grainne Kealy was honoured by the Road Safety Authority for her awareness of the issue, following a crash she was involved in 13 years ago.

The awards honour the efforts of individuals and groups who promote road safety at national and community level.

The ceremony at Dublin's Croke Park was also attended by Transport Minister Shane Ross and RSA chairperson Liz O'Donnell.

Ms Kealy was a passenger in a jeep when it crashed in 2006, and she suffered horrific facial injuries.

She had been resting her feet on the dashboard when the jeep skidded on black ice and hit a wall. The airbag was deployed, and her knees hit her in the face as a result.

She describes the injuries she suffered: "I broke every bone in my face, I had a leak from my brain and then there was two teeth - my front and the one beside it - they were gone

Grainne, who is from County Laois, has needed 16 operations since the crash.

She has since worked with gardaí in Thurles, Co. Tipperary, to raise awareness of the dangers, but she said she still sees people doing it.

Her own son put his feet up on the back seat not too long ago, which she said frightened her.

She said: "He's five. In the back of the car he put his feet up on the passenger's seat and I pulled over and I spoke to him.

"He doesn't really know the full extent of what I have gone through, he doesn't understand it, but I explained it to him."

Grainne returned to work three years ago as a barmaid, which she described as a big milestone for her.

Today, the RSA presented her with the top prize at their annual leading lights awards.

Gráinne said she does not realise just how dangerous it was at the time of the accident.

People have said to me online 'Oh God, that's common sense.' Well look, I didn't have common sense that day apparently because I don't remember it.

"It's not something I did often, it was very rarely.

"But my only issue that night was the dirt on the soles of my shoes. I was like 'Ah, I can put my feet up because they're brand new boots'."

Other awards presented today included for Sustainable Travel, a new category for this year, won by Galway Cycle Bus.

The Business Award went to Jacobs Engineering for The Beyond Zero initiative - which inspired staff in the office to switch to cycling and public transport over driving for their daily commute.

Also, a Special Recognition Award was awarded to the Bantry District Gardaí.

They designed a virtual reality experience to highlight the consequences of not taking road safety seriously.

The project shows people they must prioritise road safety and develop good habits.

It has gone from a small pilot to a national roll-out.

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