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Cycling campaigner who inspired changes to rules of the road wins top RSA road safety award

leading lights 13.12.2022
  • Arrive Alive at 1.5 campaigner Phil Skelton awarded Gertie Shields Supreme Award for Road Safety at RSA Leading Lights in Road Safety awards ceremony
  • 15 category winners including win for Radio Kerry in inaugural Gay Byrne Media Award

Wexford Native, Phil Skelton, whose cycling campaign, “Arrive Alive at 1.5”, inspired changes to the official Rules of the Road has been awarded the Road Safety Authority (RSA) ‘Gertie Shields Supreme Award’ in road safety for 2022. The award was presented to Mr Skelton by Minister of State for Transport Hildegarde Naughton at the RSA’s Leading Lights in Road Safety’ Awards in Croke Park.

Phil Skelton founded the “Arrive Alive at 1.5” campaign in 2013 following his own near miss of a close passing car. Phil advocated for greater driver education around a minimum passing distance for vehicles overtaking cyclists. As a result of Phil’s campaigning, the Rules of the Road were updated to reflect a minimum passing distance of at least 1.5 metres for drivers travelling in speed zones over 50km/h, and at least 1metre in speed zones under 50km/h.

Phil was also a recipient of the Road Safety Champion category award at this year’s awards. A total of 15 category and 3 special recognition awards were presented by the RSA to individuals and organisations to honour their commitment and dedication to road safety.

Hildegarde Naughton, TD, Minister of State at the Department of Transport said: “Congratulations to everyone who received an award today and on behalf of all road users, thank you for your commitment and dedication to making our roads safer. I’d like to particularly commend Phil Skelton for his achievement. Phil’s efforts to improve road safety and to protect vulnerable road users have made a huge difference right across the country. It really does prove the point that just one person has the power to change the attitudes and behaviour of many.”

Liz O’Donnell, Chairperson of the RSA presented the awards saying: Each year, these awards allow us to recognise those who are doing their utmost to keep our local communities safe and educate others on the importance of road safety. I would like to thank all those who nominated individuals, community groups or businesses in this year’s awards, and especially this year’s winners, for their incredible and inspiring work and efforts to make our roads, and in turn, our communities, a safer place for everyone.”

Liz O’Donnell continued, “Congratulations to Mark Lynch at Radio Kerry on being the first recipient of the Gay Byrne Media Award, dedicated in honour of my predecessor and esteemed broadcaster Gay Byrne. Members of the media across the country continue to have a huge impact on how the road safety message is communicated, and none more so than Mark Lynch. Mark and his team showed compassion and integrity in his interview with Andrea Browne whose sister, 26-year-old Kerrie Browne, sadly passed away after falling asleep while driving home from work after a nightshift at University Hospital Kerry in 2019.”

The Leading Lights in Road Safety Awards 2022 were presented in the following categories: Education (Pre-primary, Primary, Secondary, Third Level, Community), Business, Emergency Services, Gay Byrne Media Award, Road Safety Champion, Public Sector, Future, CPC Trainer of the Year, Approved Driving Instructor, Sustainable Travel. The RSA also presented three ‘Special Recognition’ Awards to people and organisations who have demonstrated a commitment to road safety in their communities.

The ‘Gertie Shields Supreme Award’ is presented to an individual or group for an innovative and outstanding road safety initiative, or for their leadership and exemplary dedication to the area of road safety. The ‘Gertie Shields Supreme Award’ is so called in honour of the inspirational road safety activist and 2013 recipient of the award, who sadly passed away in 2015.

This year the RSA received over 80 award nominations from all over Ireland for individuals, schools, businesses, community groups, colleges and organisations which were reviewed by an independent judging panel.

Full list of category winners:

Special Recognition – Flocking Arts

Flocking Arts produced an educational film highlighting the dangers and consequences of drug driving. Filmed in Monaghan with funding assistance from the Monaghan Drugs and Alcohol Forum and the assistance of students from Beech Hill College, the film included interviews with members of the emergency services who deal with the aftermath of collisions involving intoxicants. The film was produced by Flocking Arts, a Monaghan-based youth organisation founded by Barry McSkeane & Fiona Keenan O’Brien. Their aim is to educate and inform young people on the social issues of the day through a creative platform with a view to changing things.

Special Recognition – An Garda Síochána, Bike Safe

BikeSafe is a pro-active programme made available to civilian motorcyclists, where the cumulative experience of trained, road-skilled Garda motorcyclists can pass some of their accumulated knowledge to this vulnerable sector of road users.

BikeSafe engendered a very positive response in increased morale and polished existing skill levels within the Dublin Metropolitan Region Roads Policing Division. From 19th June 2021 to 23rd October 2021, Garda Adrian Corcoran and Garda Shane Bonner completed 75 educational workshops over 30 days, with participants coming from 20 counties.

Special Recognition – TikTok Mic Drop

Held in conjunction with iRadio, TikTok Mic Drop put the spotlight on all age groups and their capacity to deliver a positive message to their peers and the wider community to communicate the importance of safe road user behaviour to ultimately save lives.

This campaign was promoted by each Local Road Safety Officer through the circulation of iRadio promotional flyers to all schools, youth groups etc in advance of the competition in an effort to encourage participation and reinforce the importance of the road safety message.

The competition invited participants to duet a road safety TikTok with an iRadio presenter.

The aim of the competition was to empower people to have conversations with their friends about making safe choices when they are behind the wheel, on foot, or however they use the road. Entrants for the road safety competition were asked to focus on sharing the road with other road users such as cyclists, drivers, horse riders, motorcyclists or pedestrians. This innovative challenge was promoted by 12 Local Authorities in 2022 and 10 Local Authorities in 2021 in partnership with iRadio with an overall prize fund of €6000 (2022) and €5000 (2021).

Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) – Dave Malone

Dave has been an ADI since 2008 and delivers training to students in cars, trucks, and buses primarily in the Dublin region.

Dave has a long standing interest in road safety and a personal commitment to helping others share the road in a safe and socially responsible manner.

Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) Training Organisation of the Year – Ireland Training & Translations Ltd 

Ireland Training and Translations (Ireland T & T Ltd) have been providing CPC training since 2018. Sylwaia Szczypta is the founder and Managing Director. Together with her team of CPC trainers, they are committed to providing quality Driver CPC training for professional bus and truck drivers.

They have been presented with this award based on feedback that drivers participating in their training have submitted to the RSA.

Business – Freight Transport Association (FTA) Ireland

FTA Ireland TruckSafe™ audits operational compliance in the areas of road safety, haulage operations, roadworthiness, working time, and environmental efficiencies. TruckSafe™ is available at three levels: ‘Bronze’, ‘Silver’ and ‘Gold’. At Silver and Gold levels the standard focuses on how commercial fleet operators are managing their fuel purchasing and consumption.

TruckSafe™ is a unique audit standard designed by those working in the freight distribution and logistics sector at FTA Ireland. There is nothing comparable to the TruckSafe™ Standard in Ireland. By introducing a mechanism of annually auditing operational management systems, practices, and procedures, it ensures that members meet the minimum legal requirements, remain safe on our roads, and influence a culture of the highest standards of professionalism and compliance in Ireland.

Education Pre-primary – Claire Barden Educational Services / Learn Early Montessori in Ballymote, Co. Sligo

“Watch Your Feet! Before You Cross the Street” is the theme of the 2022 road safety awareness lesson for the children of the three preschools and creches owned and operated by Claire Barden and her team. Claire began her career in Early Childhood Care and Education in 2007, and for the past 15 years has been an advocate for teaching young children, aged 0-6 years, about the importance of road safety. Each year, Claire chooses a new and exciting road safety lesson for the children.

Education Primary – Moyross Youth Academy, Limerick

The project aimed to raise awareness of the dangers and risks associated with the misuse of scrambler bikes and quads in urban areas. During Covid-19, the area had seen an increase in this activity with very limited opportunities to address the issue with the then ongoing restrictions. The idea of a road safety awareness documentary scrambler edition evolved from group discussions with interested parties including Limerick City and County Council, An Garda Síochána, National Ambulance Service, TÚS and others.

The project in May 2021 involved the launch of a road safety campaign in the community with the staging of a road crash involving a scrambler and a car, along with the emergency response. This event was witnessed by 6th class students from Corpus Christi School. It was followed by a discussion on road safety between the students, Advanced Paramedic Keith Mullane, and Sergeant Tony Miniter from Limerick Roads Policing Unit. This was then followed by a launch of the new documentary on the issue, which was shown locally and is available on Facebook.

Education Secondary – Coláiste an Eachréidh

The aim of the campaign was to heighten awareness of road safety among students in their own school and the two local primary schools on campus. It also aims to model and encourage the implementation of safer road behaviours, and to create a safer car park and school campus.

Road Safety Week ran in September 2022, with several guest speakers and workshops including the RSA shuttle, guests from the Garda Roads Policing Unit and a workshop with the Irish Road Victims Association. The school documented all of their learnings and spread key messages to local and national media including TG4.

Measures were taken and continue to be practiced in the school to promote road safety. Hi-Vis jackets were given to every student in the school, and there are plans to paint a pedestrian path in areas where the footpath ends. Plans are also in place to design a road safety brochure, which will be distributed to every parent in the school showing clear drop-off points and walking routes.

Education Third Level – University of Limerick Smarter Travel Project

The University of Limerick Smarter Travel Project was set up in 2013 with the objective of promoting sustainable and safe travel modes for all of the campus community, which currently totals almost 20,000 staff and students. This is achieved through various behavioural change campaigns and physical infrastructure improvements.

With such a transient student population, which includes approximately 5,000+ new first-year students per year, the project requires a blend of annual consistency - achieved through tried and tested measures (e.g. orientation week stalls, weekly bike mechanic service etc).

Education Community – Shed 4 Bikers

Shed 4 Bikers is a community group set up in 2017 by Derek Gannon, for people to come and learn and contribute to motorcycle safety. Derek works tirelessly with a team of 5 volunteers to promote safe biking. With road incidents rising in the biking community, Shed 4 Bikers is a vital place for bikers to meet and learn from each others experiences. Derek organises free courses on basic motorcycle maintenance, first aid training and informational seminars with RSA approved instructors to help riders understand hazards and how to prepare and adjust to different circumstances on the roads in the hope of saving lives.

Emergency Services – East Cork Rapid Response

East Cork Rapid Response (ECRR) is a voluntary organisation that assists the National Ambulance Service by providing advanced skills at the site of the incident within East Cork and Cork City, bringing the ‘Resus Room’ to the roadside. The volunteers respond to an average of 9 calls a month to provide advanced skills and knowledge to the incident. The calls range from cardiac arrests, to falls, seizures, or trauma, with road traffic incidents being the second most common reason for a call out. The ECRR committee dedicates more than 200 collective voluntary hours to ensure that the service is run professionally.

Sustainable Travel –Beaumont National School Parents Association

The Beaumont Girls’ National School and Scoil Barra Naofa Buachaillí are two schools on the same campus, situated in a mature suburb of Cork. This meant that there was a significant amount of traffic on a road network that was not built to take it.

The Parents’ Association set about encouraging parents to park in an alternative location and allowing their children to walk to school. Following the success of this first step, they then introduced a cycle bus to further encourage parents and children to use alternative and more sustainable modes of transport to travel to school. They also successfully lobbied for the installation of bike parking around their school.

By working with the local residents’ association, the schools and the local authority,

it was also agreed that the road outside the school would be closed to vehicular traffic during school drop-off and pick-up times, thus making the school gate a much safer place for children to walk and cycle to school.

Future – Joint Award - Áine O’Loughlen, Survey 123 App

Áine O’Loughlen was a key member of a team involved in organising ‘Speed Week’ in 2021 to gain a snapshot of driver behaviour in the vicinity of schools across Ireland. The information collected is used to present the speed issue to Local Authorities; school-specific speed data, together with a school’s campaign backdrop for lower speed limits.

Áine’s expertise within the team is a combination of advocacy for lower speed limits in the region in which she works, active membership of County Donegal’s Road Safety Working Group, and her use of ArcGIS software to test and develop a bespoke speed Survey 123 App for use by travel officers. The Survey123 app was an important tool during the speed week data capture.

The data formed a significant element of the report produced and authored by Áine on Speed Week. The data is an accurate representation of the situation encountered daily at schools in Ireland, be they in periodic 30 km/h zones or sited on 100 km/h stretches of road. Speeding is taking place and creating an inequitable space for children with unsafe driving practice exhibited by 36% of drivers.

Future - Joint Award - Maura Moore, Vision Impaired Person's Moving Object Detector

Maura is a third-year student in The King’s Hospital, Palmerston. She is visually impaired and has experienced difficulties detecting and gauging an oncoming car’s speed or distance.

Maura designed VIPMOD, short for Visually Impaired Person’s Moving Object Detector. VIPMOD uses both visual and audio signals to alert the user of approaching fast-moving objects such as cars.

The app can calculate the distance between two users, using GPS. The app uses a unique visual, audio and vibration alert, corresponding to the calculated distance. The app has several accessibility functions which makes the app more accessible to users: Dark Mode, Text to Speech, and Road Status (e.g. driver, pedestrian, or disabled user).

Public Sector – Dún Laoghaire - Rathdown County Council

In September 2022, Dún Laoghaire - Rathdown County Council adopted its fifth Road Safety Plan 2022-2030, in line with the National Road Safety Strategy 2021-2030, one of the first Local Road Safety Plans adopted under the new national strategy in Ireland. 24 actions have been outlined in the plan to help reduce collisions each year.

Dún Laoghaire - Rathdown County Council is aiming to create a locality that is safe for everyone to walk and cycle and travel to their destination safely and this aim permeates transport, road safety and climate change policy.

Gay Byrne Media Award – Mark Lynch, Radio Kerry

Radio Kerry journalist Mark Lynch is being presented with the Gay Byrne Media Award for his interview with Andrea Browne. Andrea’s 26-year-old sister Kerrie passed away after falling asleep while driving home from work after night duty at Kerry University Hospital.

Mark approached Andrea with sensitivity and compassion and asked if she would record an interview with Radio Kerry to remind all drivers of the dangers of driving while feeling fatigued. Mark framed the interview skilfully so that first and foremost it centred on Andrea’s love for her sister and how Kerrie’s death has devastated her.

Road Safety Champion and Supreme Award Winner – Phil Skelton

Phil Skelton founded the Arrive Alive at 1.5 campaign in 2013. In 2017, as a result of Phil’s campaigning, the Rules of the Road were updated to reflect a recommended minimum passing distance of pedal cyclists, and legislation was introduced to support this.

Phil has worked with some local authorities, volunteers and partners to roll out awareness campaigns to promote the minimum passing distance of cyclists e.g. road signage, vehicle signage, videos and online content.

Having succeeded in much awareness creation, Phil suggested an awareness video from Australia to the RSA and in 2018, the video of the cyclists with outstretched arms was created in conjunction with the RSA and released across TV channels and social media.