Catherine Flaherty joined the Road Safety Association after her sister was killed by a drink driver travelling the wrong way down a motorway five years ago.
Catherine works as a road safety promotion officer with the RSA and on Sunday — World Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Road Collisions — she will remember her sister Delia.
Delia, 33, was on her way home from Dublin to Carraroe, Connemara, Co Galway, on June 28, 2011, and had been expected to get engaged to her partner the same week.
“Unfortunately, my sister was pulling out behind a lorry into the overtaking lane when the other driver was coming from the other direction,” Catherine said.
Delia, a social care worker, could not have seen the other driver, who was two-and-a-half times over the legal limit at the time, and who was also killed when the two vehicles collided on the M6 outside Moate, Co Westmeath.
Delia was taken to Tullamore General Hospital before being transferred to Beaumont, where she died three days later as a result of a severe head injury.
“Delia had no broken bones,” said Catherine. “She had no internal injuries. All she had was a tiny scratch on her forehead, but she had a head injury.”
Catherine pursued a career in the RSA after her sister died because, like a lot of people, she never expected gardaí to come knocking on the door with such bad news.
“I said to myself, I could stay at home and be angry about what happened or I could try and go out and do something,” she said.
Catherine said Delia was perfect in every way.
“She was a shy person, but she had such a warm heart,” she said. “I do feel she is with us all the time and I believe she would have wanted us to try and put out the safety message.”
Almost 24,000 people have died on Irish roads to date since records began in 1959. Already this year, 165 families, friends and communities have lost a loved one.
RSA chairwoman Liz O’Donnell said the lives of thousands of families throughout the country had been changed forever as a result of a road collision.
“It is not just enough to keep these people in our hopes and prayers once a year,” said Ms O’Donnell. “We must all commit to work together and take responsibility for our behaviour on the roads and create real change out of respect for their memories.”
The RSA was joined for the launch of World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims in Dublin yesterday by singer-songwriter Christy Moore.
One of the songs sun by Moore yesterday was ‘My Lovely Young One’. He was asked to write it 15 years ago by a woman whose daughter died.
Moore was particularly critical of people who used their mobile phones when driving.
“It really appals and angers me, and I feel legislation is needed to deal with that,” he said.
He was also concerned that vehicles were travelling faster and there was more emphasis on in-car entertainment.
“When I learned to drive all those years ago, there were no driving tests, but there were no distractions either,” he said. “You learned to drive, and that’s all you had to do, just drive.”
A full list of the events planned for Sunday is available on www.rsa.ie.
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