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'Exceptionally brave' Tipperary crash survivor receives road safety award

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'Exceptionally brave' Tipperary crash survivor receives top road safety award

Tipperary's Gráinne Kealy with RSA chairperson Liz O’Donnell

Tipperary woman who suffered a brain injury and serious facial injuries in a road traffic collision has been honoured. 

Thurles' Gráinne Kealy, who now uses the experience to educate others, has been awarded the Road Safety Authority (RSA) Gertie Shields Supreme Award for 2019.

The award was presented to Gráinne by Minister for Transport Tourism and Sport Shane Ross at the RSA’s 12th annual Leading Lights in Road Safety Awards in Croke Park, Dublin. 

Gráinne’s life changed forever in 2006 when the jeep in which she was a front seat passenger skidded on black ice and crashed into a wall. At the time of the crash, Gráinne was seated with her feet up on the dashboard in front of her, the airbags deployed and Gráinne’s knees crashed into her face. As a result, Gráinne suffered brain and serious facial injuries. So severe were her injuries that surgeons had to remove her forehead, and she has undergone countless operations and procedures over the years since.

This year, Gráinne assisted the road safety team at Thurles Garda Roads Policing Unit in educating young people on the reality of trauma on Irish roads. Delivered to over 500 people, Gráinne recounted her experience and recovery process, helping to influence and remind students of the importance of behaving and sitting correctly when travelling as a passenger in a car.

A total of 17 awards were presented by the RSA to individuals and organisations in recognition of their commitment and dedication to road safety at the ceremony.

Minister Ross thanked everyone for their passion and commitment to road safety. "I recently attended the launch of the Christmas and New Year’s road safety appeal at the National Rehabilitation Hospital, where we heard from survivors of road traffic collisions. This served as an additional reminder of why it is so important that people embrace road safety education efforts in their communities," he said.

"I would particularly like to commend Gráinne Kealy, not only in dealing with the aftermath and recovery from such a life-changing incident but in using her experience to raise awareness of road safety among young people. She is exceptionally brave and as such is so deserving of this award."

Leading Lights in Road Safety Awards were presented in the following categories: Education (Preschool, Primary, Secondary, Third Level, Community), Business, Emergency Services, Media, Road Safety Champion, Public Sector, CPC Trainer of the Year, Approved Driving Instructor, and the new category Sustainable Travel. 

The RSA also presented Special Recognition Awards to a number of people/organisations who have demonstrated a commitment to road safety in their communities.

Award for Tipperary Fire and Rescue Service

Tipperary Fire and Rescue Service's social media team received the Emergency Services Award. 

Drivers’ reaction to emergency service vehicles travelling under blue lights varies dramatically from driver to driver, with many unsure of how to react.

Tipperary Fire and Rescue Services created the Blue Light Awareness Video to educate the public on what they should do when they meet an emergency service vehicle driving under lights and sirens on our roads. The video gives clear simple instructions to drivers and to date it has achieved over 27,000 views.