Drivers have been warned about the stark consequences for lives, families, and communities that drink driving can cause over the festive season.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána have launched their annual Christmas and new year road safety campaign.

The campaign includes an advert featuring Gillian and Ronan Treacy, whose four-year-old son Ciarán was killed in a head-on collision with a drunk driver in April 2014.

Ciarán died as a result of the collision while Gillian was left with devastating injuries. The ad features home videos of Ciarán playing with his brother and sister in the garden and laughing and smiling in the car, a picture of happiness and innocence.

Parents of boy killed by drunk driver lead RSA Christmas campaign

It also features Sergeant Dave Lynam and paramedic Christy Kelly who attended the collision and nurses Patrice O’Connell and Mary Joyce who fought to save Ciarán’s life.

The RSA’s pre-crash report on alcohol released earlier this year, which examined Garda forensic investigation files into fatal crashes between 2008 and 2012, showed that alcohol was a factor in 38% of all fatal collisions, claiming the lives of 286 people. Some 29% of drivers and motorcyclists killed had consumed alcohol.

To date this year, 169 people have been killed on Irish roads, an increase of 27 when compared to the same period last year. Between January and October 2016 there have been 6,629 arrests for driving under the influence, 406 more (6.5%) than this period last year. There were 665 arrests for driving under the influence during last year’s Christmas campaign. Speaking before the launch, Mrs Treacy said her family was “shattered” because of drink driving.

“As a mother, your instinct is to protect your children from harm that might come their way but I wasn’t able to do this for Ciarán. Because someone decided to drink and drive, and his actions led to the death of my little boy. Our lives will never be the same again. I beg anyone who would think of drinking and driving to think of my little boy, and to think of the devastated family and community mourning his loss,” she said.

RSA chairperson Liz O’Donnell said drink driving “destroys lives” and could not be tolerated in society.

“It is a scourge on our roads, a threat to our safety and a selfish act that will not be tolerated. Gillian and Ronan Treacy have shown extraordinary courage and selflessness by sharing their story — it is now up to each of us to honour Ciarán’s memory by never ever drinking and driving,” she said.

Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahoney called on drivers not to take the risk of driving with after drinking.

“Our message to any driver thinking of drinking and driving is ‘don’t do it’, the consequences are too serious. At best you risk losing your licence — at worst you could have to live with the guilt of being responsible for someone’s death or serious injury,” he said.

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