A BARNSLEY dad has spoken about how a drink driver has changed his and his family’s life forever.
Driving to work last New Year’s Day, Matthew Arnold, from Brierley, was involved in a collision on the A1 that left him with numerous injuries, including spinal fractures, a broken arm and foot and a separated bowel.
His injuries have left him unable to work, reliant on a stick to help him walk, and unable to dress himself without the help of his wife Laura.
Matthew shared his story to back the national drink-drive campaign Op Limit to raise awareness of drink-driving.
A spokesperson for South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership said: “We know more people are likely to get behind the wheel around Christmas and New Year and we would urge everyone to leave the car at home and do the right thing for everyone’s safety.”
Matthew explains what happened when his life changed forever. He said: “The collision happened so quickly. One moment I was driving to work as normal and then the next thing there were headlights coming towards me. I didn’t have time to react.
“At that moment, I knew life wouldn’t be the same again. I’ve never experienced such pain and fear. When people talk about life flashing before your eyes, I now understand how that feels.
“Once in hospital the full realisation of the seriousness of the situation really sunk in. In some ways I felt lucky to be alive, but I was worried about what the future would hold; how would I be able to work and provide for my family.
“Leaving hospital and returning home was just the first part of my recovery. I’m reliant on Laura for a lot of help, even things like getting dressed."
When emergency services arrived on scene, Matthew was unconscious, trapped inside his vehicle, and had to be freed by the fire service.
Roads Policing Inspector Matt Collings explains how responding to this type of incident doesn’t get any easier.
He said: “No matter how long you have been a police officer for, responding to serious collisions always has an impact.
“You have a victim, someone who is loved, has family, a home, and delivering the news to their family or friends that they have died or been seriously injured is difficult.
“Then you have the investigation and ensuring you preserve as much evidence as possible to hold those responsible to account for their actions.
“The inquiry that can last hours at the scene, as well as weeks, months and even years after. This then costs the public a huge amount of money in terms of the resources used and the process that follow – all because a selfish person, who wanted to make their lives a bit more convenient, got in their car after having a drink or taking drugs.
“Life is precious, and everyone has a responsibility to help keep road users safe.
“Think ahead this Christmas and New Year, how would you feel if it was your loved one?”
We take a zero-tolerance approach to drink and drug driving. Throughout December, additional check sites and stops are conducted to put those posing a risk in front of the courts.
Matthew added: “I fully support the national campaign to tackle drink and drug driving at Christmas and hope it makes people think twice about taking risks.
“I hope that by sharing my experience, people will leave the car at home and do the right thing when it comes to using our roads safely.”
Earlier this year, the driver involved in Matthew’s case was jailed for 15 months and banned from driving for three years. He had previously pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving and drink-driving.