For Road Safety Week 2016, we are asking everyone to make and share Brake's Pledge, and show their commitment to saving lives and keeping our roads safe. For the latest Brake blog, Elaine Corner - a road safety educator after a 25 year army career - writes about her own experiences after being in a road crash.
How would you feel if your life, and that of your family, was changed forever by the actions of somebody else? In 2011 I got to find out the answer to that when I was knocked off my motorbike by someone who was using their mobile phone when driving. It was hands free but they were still distracted by their phone call when they approached the junction. So despite there being good visibility at the junction they didn’t look properly and pulled out into me.
After being taken to hospital by air ambulance I woke up the next morning in intensive care. I had tendon damage to my right ankle, fractured ribs, two fractured vertebrae, a fractured sacrum and my left foot had been amputated. I spent the next 8 weeks in hospital with the stress that caused for my husband visiting me every day and for my family travelling down from Yorkshire to be with me. I had a further six operations on my left leg as they tried to save as much of my leg as they could. I then spent the next 15 months in rehabilitation, learning how to walk again and learning how to live with my injuries.
Now, over five years later, I am still in constant pain in my lower back. I get phantom limb pain where my foot used to be. It can feel like someone in smashing at my foot with a sledgehammer or giving it an electric shock. The pain can sit me bolt upright in bed and stop me from sleeping. There are days when my stump is too sore to get my prosthetic leg on, so I’m back in my wheelchair and no matter how accessible everywhere is supposed to be nowadays it’s very hard work getting around in a wheelchair so I just tend to stay at home.
I was medically discharged from the army because of my injuries so I had to find a new job but, because of the constant pain and disrupted sleep, I can’t work full time so I can’t earn as much as I used to. I had to move house, away from my friends, because of access problems with the old house. I’m a volunteer Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Leader but I can’t go hill walking with the young people like I used to be able to.
I’m lucky as I can still be with my family and friends. I can still ride my motorbike. It could have been a whole lot worse for me and my family. I could have been killed, brain-damaged or paralysed.
But ask yourself, how would you feel if you had caused this to happen to someone else because it was you who was using your phone when you were driving? It’s not about the law, it’s about people’s lives. You are responsible for that vehicle when you get behind the wheel. You must concentrate on your driving. No phone call is more important than someone’s life.
Make that pledge to be SILENT. Put your phone on silent and out of reach when you are driving.