“My body was completely broken, but I didn’t realise I would never see him again.” These are the words of Gillian Treacy, mother of four year old Ciarán who was killed in a head-on collision with a drunk driver in April 2014.
Gillian’s story and that of her husband Ronan, the Emergency Services who attended the collision and the medical team who fought to save Ciarán’s life are featured in the latest ‘Crashed Lives’ ad campaign from the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána. The ad was launched today, Thursday 1 December, as part of the RSA and An Garda Síochána Annual Christmas and New Year Road Safety Campaign.
Ciarán Treacy was just four years old when the car he was travelling in with his mother Gillian and brother Seán was hit by a drunk-driver. 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. We hear the stories of Ciarán’s parents Gillian and Ronan, 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 message behind the ‘Crashed Lives’ campaign is that drink driving destroys lives, families and communities. As the festive season approaches, the RSA and An Garda Síochána have issued a stark warning to road-users about the consequences of drink-driving. Earlier this year, the RSA’s Pre-Crash Report on Alcohol, 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 (driver, passenger, pedestrian, motorcyclist and cyclist), claiming the lives of 286 people. 29% of drivers and motorcyclists killed had consumed alcohol.
Speaking before the launch, Gillian Treacy said:
Thursday 17 April 2014 was the day our lives were shattered because of drink-driving. As a mother, your instinct is to protect your children from any harm that might come their way but I wasn’t able to do this for Ciarán. Because someone decided to drink and drive that day, 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 still mourning his loss.
Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahoney, An Garda Síochána said:
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. An Garda Síochána will be targeting drink-driving throughout the festive period, and this includes the morning after a night out when drivers can still be over the limit. Please don’t risk it, for your sake and those who share the road with you. Our appeal is to passengers too, don’t take a lift from anyone who has been drinking – you are effectively putting your life in their hands.
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross TD said:
Drink driving kills, maims and shatters lives. While many people have changed their behaviour for the better, there is still a cohort of people who think it is acceptable to drink and drive. It is not. We simply cannot live in a society where we have to fear for our safety on the roads because of the selfish actions of someone else.
We need to take responsibility for our behaviour on the roads so that other families are not left devastated because of bad choices. We must also continue to educate drivers, cyclists and even pedestrians about the very real dangers and consequences of using the road after consuming alcohol.
Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald TD who attended the launch said:
We are united here today with our colleagues in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, An Garda Síochána, the RSA, Emergency Services and all others who play a role in keeping our roads safe with one simple message – drink-driving destroys lives. 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.
RSA Chairperson Liz O’Donnell said:
Sometimes we can switch off when we hear about road deaths and injuries because they’re just numbers, we don’t know the people behind the statistics. Today we are putting a human face on these tragedies through the stories of Gillian, Ronan, their family and those who fought to save the life of their child Ciarán. This is what drink-driving does to families and communities. Just one drink impairs your driving – that’s not an opinion, that’s a scientific fact. I am pleading with every road-user to think about this family the next time they consider drinking and driving. And then make the right choice – organise a taxi, get a lift or use public transport.
An Garda Síochána will be increasing the number of Mandatory Alcohol Testing checkpoints around the country over the next six weeks and will be on a 24/7 basis. Remember, Gardaí can breath test any driver that has committed any road traffic offence.
The new 90” ‘Crashed Lives’ TV advert shows exactly how drink driving can smash so many lives to pieces. It focuses on a crash in which four year old Ciarán Treacy was killed and all of the people who were affected as a result of Ciarán’s death. It shows the immediate family, learning to cope with physical and emotional trauma, the emergency service workers, people who arrived at the scene, nurses, the wider family and community. It reminds us that a crash is never just one person – it sends shockwaves throughout lives, families and communities. The message is simple – stop and think of Ciarán the next time you consider drink-driving, find another way home and never ever drink and drive.
The campaign will be supported by a full social and online campaign, cinema and a radio advert. The digital campaign features 13 short ten second vignettes featuring people who were directly affected by the collision. This includes those first to arrive on scene, the paramedics, the ICT nurse, the Fire Brigade and the Treacy family themselves.
These will be shared on our social media sites throughout the campaign to remind everyone the sheer number of people that are affected by a fatal collision – it’s not just the people in the car.
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.