23/05/2016

Dangers of Being Distracted Whilst Driving Highlighted in Dramatic Footage

Dramatic footage from the scene of a collision in which a woman was left paralysed is being released to highlight the dangers of drivers becoming distracted on the roads.

Distraction

The National Police Chief’s Council launches a campaign on Monday 23rd May for one week, aiming to raise awareness of the dangers of using mobile phones whilst driving and being distracted at the wheel.

60-year-old Marilyn McKnight was travelling in her Ford Ka with her son, Kevin, and daughter-in-law, Rachael, when their vehicle was hit by a Volkswagen Polo being driven by 44-year-old Craig Harding on the A19 northbound on 15th March 2015.

Craig Harding was distracted by another collision happening on the opposite side of the road in which an elderly driver had driven the wrong way down the carriageway. When Craig Harding hit the Ford Ka, it was almost at a standstill and the speed at which he was travelling propelled the Ka onto its roof, trapping both Marilyn and Kevin, who had to be extracted by emergency services.

Marilyn received extensive medical treatment at the roadside from paramedics and the air ambulance crew, before taken to hospital. She suffered loss of sight in one eye, internal injuries and severe spinal injuries which have resulted in her being unable to walk and having only limited movement in her arms.

Craig Harding was charged with causing serious injury by dangerous driving. His original prison sentence was lowered following an appeal to ten months in prison and he also received a driving ban for two years and five months, and will need to pass an extended test.

Senior Investigating Officer, Inspector Harry Simpson, from the Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit, said: “This footage shows what could happen should you not be giving your full attention to the road ahead. Marilyn’s life has been altered beyond recognition and her son and daughter-in-law are still suffering from the effects of that day. It’s worrying to think that a family day out could end up in such carnage.

“Both collisions that took place on that day were completely avoidable and had Craig Harding been paying attention to the road in front of him, the devastation that this family has suffered would never have happened. 

“Distraction is part of the ‘fatal four’ contributing factors in serious and fatal collisions, alongside speeding, seatbelts and intoxication. Whether it be mobile phones or any other form of distraction, police would urge drivers to give the road ahead of them their full attention and concentrate on what’s happening ahead.

“It only takes a split second for something like this to happen. Whether you’re travelling at speed or not, please bear in mind the damage that can happen if you take your eyes off the road. I think the footage that we have released following this incident speaks for itself.”

In the last five years, there have been 73 people injured in Cleveland and Durham in collisions involving a driver using a mobile phone. Of these, 65 suffered slight injuries, five were seriously injured and three were killed.

Over the same period, there were 499 people injured in collisions involving a driver who was distracted by something inside their vehicle other than a mobile phone, for example, a satellite navigation system, the radio, children, a wasp etc. 460 of these people were slightly injured, 34 were seriously injured and five were killed.