With the build up to Christmas now well underway, many of us are preparing for work parties or meeting up with friends to celebrate the festive season. But we all know that it can be difficult at times to get transport home at the end of a night out. To raise awareness of the importance of planning your journey home, Monaghan Fire and Civil Protection together with An Garda Siochana and the National Ambulance Service have launched their ‘Gift A Lift’ road safety Christmas campaign.
Adrian O’Sullivan, Road Safety Officer with Monaghan County Council explained a bit more about what’s behind it. The “Gift of a Lift’ Christmas card is a novel way of getting across a serious message at a time of year when road users need to be extra careful, as roads are at their busiest and conditions can be dangerous. The idea is that you ‘gift’ a family member or friend a lift home or organise a taxi for them over the festive season, ensuring they arrive home safely.
Present at the launch of the campaign was Sergeant Niall Leech from Monaghan Roads Policing Unit who welcomed the initiative and had the following advice: “An Garda Síochána are reminding drivers to plan ahead when going out to celebrate over the holiday period. Leave the car keys at home and either get a taxi or designate a driver. Don’t forget you may still be over the legal alcohol limit the following morning, so don’t take any chances. Gardaí will continue to focus on locations and times where fatal and serious injury collisions have previously occurred. One of our primary goals is to reduce the number of people driving while under the influence of alcohol and illegal drugs. Our preliminary testing equipment can detect the presence of Cannabis, Cocaine, Benzodiazepines, Opiates, Amphetamine and Methamphetamine. This enhanced drug testing system is timely as drug use in Irish society continues to increase which in turn translates into more dangerous intoxicated driving. Roads Policing continues throughout the year in County Monaghan and Christmas time will be no different. Our advice is simple: Arrive home safe this Christmas and don’t ever drink or drive while under the influence of either alcohol or drugs” added Sergeant Leech.
Also present at the launch to support the ‘Gift of a lift’ initiative were members of the National Ambulance Service and Monaghan Fire and Civil Protection. The effects of attending the scene of road traffic collisions can be profound on members of the emergency services as well as families, friends and local communities.
Dermot Brannigan Chief Fire Officer with Monaghan Fire Civil Protection has the following message: “We are urging all road users to act responsibly and to not drink or drug drive when using the roads throughout Christmas, New Year or any time. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can have catastrophic consequences with members of the Fire Service together with the Gardaí, Ambulance services and Local Authority staff all having to deal with the horrific aftermaths of such collisions. We would appeal to all road users not to take risks and to make safer choices. Wear your seatbelt, watch out for vulnerable road users and never walk on the road when intoxicated. Don’t let your actions spoil a good night out and bring tragedy to your family this Christmas.”
Des Brennan Paramedic Supervisor with the National Ambulance Service reflected on how road safety is everyone’s responsibility. “We must all work together to keep everyone safe on our roads. As of 29th November 2023, there have been 171 fatalities countrywide, an increase of 31 compared to the same period in 2022, eight of which have occurred in County Monaghan. That’s eight empty seats at the table this Christmas, which is far too high. In addition to dealing with these fatal accidents, members of the emergency services have attended many serious collisions throughout the year, most of which didn’t even make the news headlines, but which have left people with life changing injuries”.
We all know someone for whom it can be difficult to choose a Christmas present, so why not give them the ‘Gift of a Lift’ and ensure they get home safely over the party season. The card is available for printing by searching for ‘Gift of a Lift’ on Monaghan.ie website or from any County Monaghan library branch (subject to availability).