Law Firm Backs Charity’s Call For An End To Driving Under The Influence

Campaign To Improve Safety On The Roads

23.11.2009

Manchester’s leading personal injury lawyers from Quay Street based Irwin Mitchell, are backing a hard hitting campaign by the road safety charity BRAKE to increase safety on the region’s roads.

Not a Drop, Not a Drag – Stay Sober, Save Lives is the brainchild of the road safety charity for its annual awareness week, which launches today.

The latest campaign, which calls for all drivers to commit to not drink even a drop of alcohol before driving, or take a drag on a joint or other illegal substances has struck a cord with the team of personal injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell.

Matthew Brown from the personal injury team at Irwin Mitchell said: “We see too many people, day in day out, whose lives have been turned up side down as a consequence of people still getting behind the wheel under the influence of either drink or drugs.

“During 2007 almost 16,000 people in the UK were killed or hurt by drink and drug-drivers. That’s 44 every day.

He continued: “Despite a combined effort by many bodies to raise awareness of the dangers, it still astounds me and my team just how many victims we represent who are fighting to re-build their lives after being involved in catastrophic but highly avoidable incidents.

Irwin Mitchell is currently representing 30-year-old Russell Howson from Swinton, Manchester, who was knocked off his scooter in September last year.

On Sunday September 28th 2008, Russell was travelling home from work at the Trafford Centre when he was struck from behind at high speed by a driver who later tested over the alcohol limit.

Russell recalls, “All I remember was feeling a tremendous impact when I was thrown off my bike and being lay on the floor with a crowd of people around me. I recall vividly the back of my head feeling wet and cold, I later learnt this was due to blood loss.”

He was rushed into Hope Hospital where he spent one month under medical supervision on the spinal injury ward. A former long distance runner, Russell suffered horrific injuries, including a fractured spine, damaged shoulder blades and head injury.

Over one year on and Russell is still living with the consequences of the avoidable incident. He has a strict rehabilitation programme and has to see a number of consultants on a regular basis including a physiotherapist three times a week. His home has had to be adapted to meet his new needs and he can no longer work full-time.

He said: “I have terrible trouble sleeping these days as it’s difficult to get comfortable and I am currently suffering with flashbacks. My Mum and Dad have had to re-locate to Manchester to be closer to me as they were worried about me coping on my own.

“My life has changed so much, I can no longer enjoy any of my hobbies. Before the crash I was a keen deep sea diver and visited places such as Mexico.  Doctors have told me that I will never be able to dive again due to the nature of the injury to spine.

“I don’t know what the future holds for me, I am determined to get as strong and well as I can but the injuries I sustained that day will affect me for the rest of my life.”

Russell’s solicitor Matthew concluded: “My client has lost so much due to the irresponsible actions of one person. He is currently undergoing an intensive rehabilitation programme. Lessons need to learnt so that other people do not have to go through the trauma that Russell has.”

Cathy Keeler, Deputy Chief Executive of Brake, said; “We need to raise  awareness of the different ways in which drugs and alcohol can affect drivers’ behaviour behind the wheel.
She continued: “Although accurate figures aren’t available, research by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), suggests drug driving may be as widespread as drink driving. TRL found that 17 % (almost one in five) of drivers who die in road crashes have traces of illegal drugs in their system that may have affected their driving. We have to work together to stop this and urge the Government to implement effective roadside drug testing.”