A motorcyclist who was left with severe injuries after his bike was hit by a van is backing a campaign to cut the amount of traffic on the region's roads.
Road safety charity Brake's Drive Less Live More campaign encourages drivers to consider other ways of making their journey.
Adrian Watson was riding north along the B1284 in Chilton Moor last September when he was struck by a Vauxhall Vivaro van.
The 42-year-old, from Houghton, spent a fortnight in hospital with two spinal fractures, multiple rib fractures, liver lacerations, lung contusions, fluid in the spleen, laceration of the knee as well as extended shoulder and back pain and has suffered a number of psychological symptoms including flashbacks, panic attacks and amnesia.
Van driver Susan Hill, 35, of Corn Mill Drive, Houghton – whose own husband Trevor Slater was killed in a motorcycle collision in 2006 – initially pleaded not guilty to driving without due care and attention but changed her plea on the day she was due to stand trail at Sunderland Magistrates Court last month.
She was fined £234, with £100 costs and £23 victim surcharge and given six points on her licence.
Now Adrian Watson has spoken out for Road Safety Week in the hope his story encourages motorists to be extra vigilant on the roads and more aware of vulnerable road users such as motorcyclists and cyclists.
“I love riding motorcycles and had one day hoped to launch my own motorcycle business,” he said.
“However, now I can’t ride a motorcycle as far or for as long as I used to because of the pain. I’m still taking medication for my injuries and am reliant on the ongoing support of Minster Law’s specialist team.”
“I had only been riding my motorcycle at around 30mph on the day of my accident, but was still left with really serious injuries. However, I still feel lucky – so many other bikers who are involved in accidents are not. I hope my experience encourages other motorists to be more vigilant around junctions and to be extra cautious of other bikers and cyclists on the road.”
Minster Law Solicitor, Mark Webley, who is leading Adrian’s case said: “It is well documented that accidents involving motorcyclists are out of proportion to their presence on our roads – government figures highlight that bikers make up 19% of all fatalities on the road, despite representing less than one per cent of road traffic*. Unfortunately, this is echoed by the significant number of biking cases we deal with – the majority of which involve serious injuries, like Adrian’s.
“It’s really important that we continue to raise awareness of vulnerable road users by supporting safety initiatives such as Brake Road Safety Week. Many bikers are already supporting the drive less, live more principle by choosing to use their motorcycle for shorter journeys. With this year’s theme hopefully encouraging more cyclists and pedestrians, we must continue to stress the importance of driver vigilance. We understand that there are times when we all need to drive, but hope that stories such as Adrian’s make motorists think twice when approaching junctions.”
Up to 30 motorcyclists are killed or injured every day at junctions in the UK, while almost two thirds of cyclists killed or seriously injured in 2013 were involved in collisions at or near road junctions.