Drink driving injuries on the up #GO20

Go 20

I’m sharing this again as Brake has announced a campaign ‘Go 20’ to get all residential areas in the UK to be 20mph. I’m all for this. I was saved by this speed limit being introduced, but the AA is against it, saying residents should be asked first. Read my story below and see if you agree with the AA or support the Brake campaign…

s300_drink-driving-campaign

I’m going a bit serious with this blog post, but only because this is a cause close to me. The UK press today revealed the latest figures of drink and drive injuries in the UK. Basically injuries by drunk drivers is on the up. I myself am a victim of a drunk driver, having been hit by a car when I was 11 years old. Here are the latest facts*:

  • 290 people died in 2012, up 26 per cent on the previous year
  • 1,210 people had serious injuries, down from 1,270 in 2011
  • 8,500 people had slight injuries, up from 8,420 in 2011

It is irresponsible to drive under the influence, of alcohol or drugs. It is not just your own life you put at risk, and those victims, like me that survive may never be the same again. Here is my story…

road

The image above is the street I lived on..I will explain why I’m showing you this in a second. The driver lived at the end of my road, the pub was a 10 minute walk from his house, the day was a Sunday afternoon at 3pm and he was nearly twice over the limit. In fact, he didn’t even realise he had hit me until he heard me scream, he then parked his car three houses down the road.

I was standing in the road washing our family car (next to the park where the blue car is parked on the left hand side of the image). You can see on the image that the road slightly widens here so two cars can be parked and a car can still drive through, whereas the part of the road closest with the speed bump you can only park one car. On the day a car was parked on the left hand side in front of the speed bump, the driver came into the middle of the road to overtake the car, once he had travelled over the speed bump he sharply turned his car back to the left hand side of the road as if he was pulling in to park and hit me. My mother saw the car coming towards me and screamed my name, I took a step forward to get out of the way and my right leg took the full impact of the car.

Speed bumps had been placed in our area only a matter of weeks before, which the police informed me had saved my life. He was travelling around 25mph, he couldn’t have travelled any faster as he had been slowed down by the speed bump. If the bump had not been there, he would have been going 35mph which would have killed me. My little sister was two at the time, she was also outside, if that had been her, at 25mph it would have killed her instantly.

Because my leg took the full impact it was in a bad state. The rest of me had not even a scratch, but my leg, I had a double compound fracture, which meant that both of my bones above my ankle had broken through the skin. I had ripped my muscles, ligaments, etc. One of my neighbours had seen a compound fracture injury on a football pitch and saw the medics cover the wound with their hands to protect it from infection. When he saw my accident he ran over and did the same to my leg. When the ambulance arrived they asked if I could wiggle my toes, which I could, which meant that they would be able to save my leg.

When I got to the hospital I had to be rushed into surgery at 6pm in order to save my leg. The wound was too big to be stitched up so had to be left open to heal naturally. I was in a cast for 13 weeks, three weeks longer than expected because my fibula bone hadn’t healed yet, and if it didn’t after this time I would have to leave it permanently broken – luckily it did. I still had my wound for a month or so after this and all in all was in hospital for 10 days, had weekly visits afterwards for my wound dressing to be changed, x-rays, physio, etc, on a zimmer frame to start walking on day seven, on crutches and a wheel chair for about five months.

Almost 20 years on and I still take medication and I am restricted in what I can do and wear. I have never been able to wear sky-high heels and on bad days I can’t even run to the bus stop, or walk down the road to the shop. I have never been skiing, I was never able to roller skate (although I did try), I can never run a marathon (or even a 5k) and I don’t have the confidence to wear clothes where my lower leg is exposed due to the large scar and misshape of my leg (I have a dent where there is no tissue between the skin and bone).

I think myself lucky that I am still alive and I have my leg, when many others don’t. I have never considered having plastic surgery to change the appearance of my leg as it is a daily reminder that I survived. But I do know that my life would be completely different had this man not got behind the wheel of his car after a couple of pints.

You may think that you feel ok, but even one pint can have an impact on you. There are many other options and solutions for when you have had too much to drink and I ask you to please consider these when you have had a drink. The man that hit me had been doing his regular drive home from the pub every Sunday, he always drank the same amount, but one day he hit a young girl. Those couple of pints affected him so much that he thought I had run out in the road in the opposite direction to what I was facing before he finally admitted that he didn’t see me at all. He was a long distance lorry driver who received a 12 month ban and a £250. This was not much and he was not charged for hitting me (but that is another story about our justice system) but he did lose his job. He did walked away from the accident a changed man, but I don’t think he ever realised the impact he had on my life, more the fact that this little girl in the road had cost him dearly.

Please think before you get behind the wheel. And next time you complain about a speed bump, remember they are there for a reason.

* Figures are estimated by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

Images: Think award winning advertising campaign / Google street view

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