“Wake up, it’s in your hands.”
That's the message crash survivor Sam Cawthorn wants to get through to “loser drivers” who make “dumb decisions” on the road, leaving families devastated.
The father-of-three speaks from experience, having fallen asleep at the wheel, crossing onto the wrong side of the road and crashing head-on into a truck on the Bass Highway at Parramatta Creek.
He died in the crash, but emergency crews managed to resuscitate him.
His right arm had to be amputated, he spent six days in an induced coma and his right leg was permanently damaged.
That crash was in 2006 and although it has been 11 years, Mr Cawthorn lives with physical pain every single day.
“I live with phantom pain, if I close my eyes I can still feel every single one of my fingers,” he said.
“It’s like the worst pins and needles you have ever experienced, but times that by 10 and that’s how my arm feels 24/7.”
As a survivor, Mr Cawthorn shares his story as a motivational speaker, educating and inspiring others to change their behaviour.
“It’s all about being conscious, rather than subconscious,” he said.
“When we first get our drivers licence, we’re so conscious of everything. We slowly become complacent and start driving subconsciously.
“It just takes a split second and it could all be over, for you, for your loved ones if you’re not awake and present.”
He is now sharing his story to launch The Examiner’s Christmas road safety campaign, which will run during the holiday period. The campaign will focus on the tragic consequences of deaths on the state’s roads and the people who experience trauma as a result of those crashes.
“I believe that a story is a great gift … stories can inspire people and through that inspiration we can then take action,” Mr Cawthorn said.
“I encourage everyone out there, if you have been affected by a car accident, whether it was a family friend, a mate or just someone you know, tell that story, share that story.
“The more we are sharing stories of the grief, sadness and bitterness caused by dumb choices, the more we can create change together as a community.”
Knowing and admitting he was at fault in his own crash, he wants road users to “wake up” and realise the responsibility of being behind the wheel of a vehicle.
“I have been to funerals where there was a car accident and the person who passed away, it was not their fault,” he said.
“If you’re being a loser in the car and someone else dies because of your actions, then all of their family is now grieving and some people don’t get over that. You’re affecting multiple generations, the lifestyle of families and communities who you don’t even know.”
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If you or someone you know has been impacted by a road tragedy, Road Trauma Support Tasmania is available on 6777 6252.