Se­ri­ous crash high­lights im­por­tance of seat­belts

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - CATRIN OWEN

Troy Costello was less than 1km away from home when he fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into a tree.

He ended up in hos­pi­tal for 10 days with a bro­ken pelvis and se­vere bruis­ing to his chest.

Costello had been driv­ing along Auck­land’s Camp­bell Rd to his home in One­hunga from Muri­wai on the morn­ing of May 9.

He said he fell asleep about 5.30am.

Costello did not re­mem­ber how fast he was driv­ing but thinks he woke up when the car hit the curb.

‘‘I must have nod­ded off and drifted to the right of the road and then hit the tree,’’ he said.

The 39-year-old builder felt lucky to not have killed any­one, in­clud­ing him­self, in the crash.

‘‘Two inches ei­ther way and I would have been dead and if some­one else was in the car they would have too.

‘‘The seat­belt is the only rea­son I’m alive to­day.’’

He spent 10 days in hos­pi­tal where he was treated for a bro­ken pelvis and bruis­ing to his chest.

The NZTA said crashes from driver fa­tigue were among the most se­vere on the road.

In 2015, fa­tigue was iden­ti­fied as a con­tribut­ing fac­tor in 42 fa­tal crashes, 119 se­ri­ous in­jury crashes and 450 mi­nor in­jury crashes.

Fa­tigue slows re­flexes and af­fects con­cen­tra­tion and de­ci­sion mak­ing.

Costello said he was un­able to work for six weeks and his work ute was writ­ten off.

While Costello re­cov­ered in hos­pi­tal his ve­hi­cle re­mained on Camp­bell Rd un­til he was able to be re­leased and pick it up, caus­ing some res­i­dents to ques­tion the aban­doned ute.

Costello said he was grate­ful to be alive.

‘‘If you’re doz­ing off, pull over, close your eyes be­cause be­fore you know it you can have death star­ing at you in the face.’’

Get a good night’s sleep be­fore driv­ing

Avoid driv­ing dur­ing the hours when you would nor­mally be sleep­ing

Share the driv­ing where pos­si­ble

Avoid al­co­hol and drugs

When tak­ing long trips, plan your journey to in­clude rest breaks

Snack on light fresh foods, not su­gary and fatty foods

If you feel your­self get­ting tired, pull over and take a break

SAM HEWAT/FAIRFAX NZ

Troy Costello feels lucky to be given another chance at life.

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