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Vision Zero

Who was Mary Ward?

Mary Ward was the first person in the world to be killed by a car, and it happened here in Ireland.

Mary’s story

Mary Ward was born in 1827 in County Offaly and was a mother of eight, a pioneering scientist, and a scholar. She achieved widespread recognition in her chosen fields of astronomy and her book ‘A World of Wonders Revealed by the Microscope’ received widespread acclaim. She was the first woman accepted into the Royal Astronomical Society, a fact made even more remarkable when we know how difficult it was for women to succeed academically at the time. 

On 31 August 1869 in Birr, Co. Offaly, Mary Ward was thrown from a car while travelling with her cousins.  She was killed instantly. 

More about Mary

Our Vision Zero Advertising Awareness Campaign

The new ‘Who was Mary Ward? Vision Zero’ campaign raises awareness of the fact that the first person in the world to die in a road crash happened here in Ireland and thousands more have lost their lives on our roads since then. It’s time we saw an end to road deaths in Ireland.

(17) Vision Zero - YouTube
Our Tv advert opens with an introduction to Mary Ward and her accomplishments in life. The piece is shot in a docu-drama style, with a narrator taking us through Mary Ward’s life as a scientist and author. Using Mary Ward’s work with the microscope as a device, we see fragments of her life cast in resin, being examined by an unseen historian. As we become more involved in the story, suddenly it crashes to an abrupt end with the shattering of glass and a sudden silence, representing the way Mary’s own story was cut tragically short.

When we return from black, we’re in a valley of shattered glass. We see Mary’s name etched on a single shard, representing her status as the first person to be killed on our roads. We pick through the debris and find more and more names of real people who died on Irish roads. These shards are reconstructed to form an image of Mary Ward. As we pull out through our microscopic lens to see the Vision Zero logo. “The world’s first road death happened here, it's time we saw our last.”. For Mary Ward, and the many more loved ones we have lost on our roads, we are left with a sense of hope that we can soon see an end to deaths on our roads.

What is Vision Zero?

No Road deaths or serious injuries by 2050.

Vision Zero is a worldwide commitment that aims for no road deaths or serious injuries on Irish roads by 2050. The Road Safety Strategy 2021-2030 is the first step in achieving Vision Zero in Ireland. This involves a multi-year strategy across all aspects of road safety, ranging from new and improved infrastructure and an increased role for technology in vehicles and also in the enforcement of road traffic laws to help reduce the dangers faced by road users.

vision zero

Road Safety Strategy 2021-2024

This will be delivered in three phases. It includes 50 high-impact actions and 136 support actions.

Join the Journey

Our journey to vision zero has only started.  Our campaign has only started. To help us on the journey to Vision Zero, start your own journey today to end deaths and serious injuries on our road.

Join the journey now by signing up to our Vision Zero pledge below.

What you can do

There are 184 actions in the Government Road Safety Strategy being delivered across more than 40 Government Departments and agencies to help improve road safety. This is not about shifting the responsibility to road users. We are all in this together. We are calling on all road users to help us and join the journey because we can’t do it without you.

  • Think about your road behaviour and see is there is one thing you can change today and for good - your change could save a life.
  • A conversation with your family or friends about road safety can make all the difference to kick starting new habits. If you have any concerns about their road behaviour, have that conversation.
  • You regularly hear road safety messages around the main killer behaviours. International and Irish research proves that these behaviours are what causes collisions. Let’s make these behaviours unacceptable in Ireland, once and for all.
  • So, if you are in charge of a vehicle:
    • Never ever drink or drug drive.
    • Reduce your speed - the posted speed sign is not a target. Drive at the speed you are comfortable at and at a speed that is safe for the road and weather conditions.
    • Avoid distractions and never use a mobile phone when driving.
    • If you are feeling tired – STOP SIP SLEEP. Pull over in a safe place, get a caffeinated drink and have a 15-minute nap. However, the only cure for tiredness is sleep.
  • Whether you are a passenger or a driver, always wear your seatbelt and always ensure those travelling in the car with you are also wearing theirs and children are correctly restrained according to their height and weight.
  • Be Safe. Be Seen
    • If you are a motorist, a motorcyclist or cyclist make sure your lights are in good working order.
    • If you are driving a vehicle, be careful during dawn and dusk and periods of poor visibility-dipped head lights can help you to be seen by other road users
    • If you cycle, enjoy running or walking always wear bright clothing or high visibility material as they will make you more visible to other road users. 
  • If you are a motorist or a cyclist, always do a safety check on your vehicle or bicycle to make sure they are in a road worthy condition.
  • If you have reduced mobility, like to walk or run and are crossing the road, please do so at a pedestrian crossing. Always try to make eye contact with the driver or cyclists before crossing the road and especially at junctions. Likewise, motorists should also try to make eye contact with those crossing, so they are aware of their intention to cross.


Vision Zero

Our new TV and radio campaign  ‘Who was Mary Ward? Vision Zero’ raises awareness of the fact that the first person in the world to die in a road crash happened here in Ireland and thousands more have lost their lives on our roads since then.

Vision Zero English RadioVision Zero Irish Radio

Working together to save lives