A mother who lost her beloved son in a collision caused by a drunk driver has issued an emotional Christmas safety plea to motorists and road users.
The appeal from Christina Donnelly came as Ireland has already exceeded the total number of road deaths recorded last year, with what is traditionally the most dangerous period of the year still to come between Christmas Eve and the New Year.
A total of 143 people have already died on Irish roads so far this year, two more than in all of 2019 (141) and seven more than the same period last year.
With the festive period still to come, fears are mounting that Ireland could see road deaths spiral by up to 10pc.
Gardaí and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) admitted the greatest cause for concern is that road deaths have soared despite two major lockdowns over the Covid-19 pandemic.
These lockdowns - which banned all but essential travel - cut road traffic by up to 70pc.
However, deaths rose steadily during the summer and autumn.
The 143 deaths so far this year included drivers (59), pedestrians (32), passengers (24), motorcyclists (17) and pedal cyclists (11).
Ms Donnelly lost her son, Brendan (24), in a tragedy caused by a drunk driver in Castlemartyr, Co Cork.
"I think every motorist should ask themselves: 'Do I really want to live the rest of my life knowing what pain, misery and suffering speed or drink or drug driving caused?'" she said.
"When you get behind the wheel, please drive safely so that you reach your destination and you are careful of the safety of all other road users."
Ms Donnelly has now devoted her life to promoting road safety so that other families don't suffer the nightmare she has endured.
"I don't want any other mother or father to go through the hell that we have endured every day," she said.
"Road safety campaigns are about protection and prevention. I don't want any parent to get that terrible knock on the door from the gardaí that I got."
In memory of her son, she campaigned for the so-called 'Brendan's Law' which sought tougher sentences and mandatory disqualifications for those convicted of drunk driving in collisions which resulted in serious injury or fatality.
She has also campaigned for crackdowns on speeding, drug driving and for greater resources for the Garda Traffic Corps.
Brendan died in a head-on collision outside Cork on October 26, 2009.
Brendan's best friend, Lee Salkeld (25), also died in the collision caused by a motorist who was coming home from a party where he had consumed a large quantity of drink and had even taken cocaine.