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Relief After Unsupervised, Learner Crash Driver Sentenced

Lawyer Calls For Lessons To Be Learnt After Mum And Toddler Hurt In Head-On Collision


A woman left seriously injured alongside her one-year-old son when an unsupervised learner driver veered onto the wrong side of the road and hit her car head-on has today spoken of her relief after the driver was fined and ordered to pay legal costs.
Katie Arkle, 28, from Thropton in Morpeth, and son Eli were hurt by driver Paul Todd, 47, of Sunderland who was uninjured in the crash. Earlier this month he pleaded guilty at Alnwick Magistrates Court to careless driving without a full licence.
The mum of two is now calling for greater awareness of the laws surrounding learner drivers and appropriate supervision and has turned to serious injury specialists at law firm Irwin Mitchell to help continue her battle for justice as she undergoes treatment for injuries to her spine, shin and vision.
Her solicitor, Helen Thomson from Irwin Mitchell, said: “Since the incident on 24 September 2010 near Rothbury, Mrs Arkle has had to endure months of hospital appointments, including physiotherapy sessions and visits to her GP. Her son, Eli, was also injured.
“Though a relief that the driver of the car has pleaded guilty to careless driving, Mrs Arkle’s ordeal is far from over. She has spent the last three months attending medical appointments on a weekly basis and is still not well enough to work full time on her small holding and in her bare foot trimming work with horses on which she is financially dependent. 
She added: “In the UK, to practice driving, you must do so with an accompanying driver, who must be over the age of 21 and must have held, and still hold, a full driving licence in the relevant vehicle category, for three years.
“Katie was unfortunate enough to encounter a driver not abiding by these rules that are in place for very good reason and it is imperative that lessons are learnt to prevent others suffering as she has. Sadly, and through no fault of her own, both she and Eli face a long road of therapy and rehabilitation, and Irwin Mitchell is committed to making sure she gets the care that she both needs and deserves.”
Speaking of her ordeal Katie said: “I don’t know why this happened to me and my son. I was just driving us to Rothbury when a car came out of nowhere, veered onto the wrong side of the road, and hit us head on. It was terrifying and I was so worried for Eli who was covered in bruises.
“As a result of the accident I experienced painful cracked ribs and severe headaches which took weeks to lessen. I continue to suffer tremendous back pain and my left shin is still very swollen. I couldn’t drive for many weeks due to problems with my eye sight, my blurred vision has improved but my sight is not as it was prior to the accident. 
“I am relieved that the driver of the car that hit me has been sentenced, but it doesn’t seem fair that my health, my family and my business may suffer for a long time to come because of the crash, which I had absolutely no control over.
“This crash and the irresponsible actions of an unlicensed driver have turned my world upside down, and both serve to highlight the need for greater awareness of the laws that learner drivers must adhere to. Learner drivers must drive with an appropriate accompanying driver. I wish there were an expiry period for provisional licences restricting learner drivers to encourage them to work towards obtaining a full licence rather than driving for many years on a provisional licence.
“I only hope lessons will be learnt so that no one should ever have to suffer the way we have.”