In a powerful and graphic gesture, 368 Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) students wearing white T-shirts lay on the ground in a college hall to represent all the victims of road accidents in 2006.
And in a tragic twist, it emerged last night that a brother of 20-year-old student nurse, Siobhán Holland, who was killed in a road accident in Cork yesterday, is a CIT business studies student.
The Students’ Union (SU) observed a minute’s silence for Ms Holland before launching Safety Week which will feature a range of events on personal, fire and water safety but with a strong emphasis on road safety.
SU president Brian O’Sullivan said he hoped it would highlight the need to drive the road safety message home.
“This country is losing young people weekly in what can only be called carnage. We have to do something to get the safety message across,” he said.
“Most of these deaths are due to human error and we have to change the mindset. Some 368 people were killed on our roads last year. If that many people died any other way in a year, we would be having a public inquiry.
“Instead, we have certain people advocating less tolerance in terms of road safety through arguing for a change in drink driving laws for rural areas.
“We hope this gesture will graphically illustrate the extent of the carnage on Ireland’s roads,” Mr O’Sullivan said.
Mr O’Sullivan called on the National Roads Authority to introduce safety weeks at colleges throughout the country.
Safety Week, which is being held in association with O’Leary Insurances Ltd, was inspired following the deaths of two CIT students in road accidents in the last seven months.
Mary Frewen, 19, from Kilworth, Co Cork, was a second-year CIT business student when she died in an horrific crash in Co Laois on July 10 last, while returning from the Oxegen music festival.
Her brother Thomas, 22, and their friend, driver Paul Geary, 21, from Mitchelstown, were also killed in the crash.
And Michael Moroney, 19, from Ballyduff Upper in Waterford, died on October 20 last, after being knocked down on Cork’s Model Farm Road.
He was a second year chemical engineering student in CIT.
Safety Week is dedicated to the memory of the late CIT lecturer and road safety campaigner, Vivian Foley, who died suddenly in 2003.
Mr Foley, who lectured Motor Vehicle Technology, Applied Mathematics and Engineering Science for more than 20 years, wrote a book in 2000 titled Is Your Car Safe? It won the Prince Michael of Kent International Road Safety Awards 2000 when it was first published.
His widow, Kathleen, and son, Andrew, attended yesterday’s launch.