Seat belts save lives – mine saved me  


“Please never forget your seat belt, it can save your life – it certainly saved mine,” says Parcelforce driver Carl Prendergast, who suffered a broken wrist in a recent road incident.

But it could have been so much worse, his 7.5-tonne delivery lorry dropped some 30 feet from a Reading flyover onto the road below, landing on its roof and in his own words: “If I hadn’t been wearing my seat belt, I’d have been catapulted out of the front windscreen and crushed on the road.”

The incident – which was widely reported in local news on the day – occurred on a late May afternoon, when Carl was driving, below the speed limit, through the centre of Reading, Berkshire.

When he reached the A329 flyover, which passes the town’s ‘Oracle’ shopping mall, a car in front braked suddenly, forcing Carl into evasive action.

“I put the brakes on and thought: ‘It’s not going to stop’, so I turned left and my vehicle hit a kerb and a barrier and that spun me right over the central reservation and then onto the barrier on the other side of the flyover,” he recalls.

The momentum of his large vehicle caused the barrier to give way and lorry and driver plunged straight over the edge and dropped onto the road below, landing on its roof.

Photographs from the immediate aftermath show the lorry completely overturned.

Carl says that he was possibly out cold for some moments, as his next memory is of people opening his door to help him out of the vehicle and of everyone’s surprise that he was able to walk away.

“It all happened so quick – but I know if it hadn’t been for my seatbelt, I wouldn’t be here now.

“And I’m just so glad no-one else was injured.”

Paramedics and police were on the scene promptly and Carl was taken to Reading’s Royal Berkshire Hospital, where a broken wrist was confirmed – and plastered up.

“That was nearly two weeks ago – and they say the plaster will be on for another couple of weeks at least.

“It’ll be sometime before I can drive again, but I want to get back to work as soon as possible,” he says, adding: “I’ve asked if I can come in on perhaps non-driving duties.”

CWU national health, safety and environment officer Dave Joyce said: “With Royal Mail Road Safety Week coming up (3-9 June), Carl’s story is an important example of the absolute necessity of wearing a seatbelt at all times while driving.

“Without a seatbelt, Carl would not be with us today – that’s the honest truth of the matter.

“Please everyone, it only takes a second for another driver perhaps to make a small mistake and as we can see from the Reading incident, the consequences are potentially catastrophic,” Dave urged.

“Seatbelts save lives and in this case it certainly did!  Those who don’t wear their seatbelts whilst behind the wheel put themselves in mortal danger. We’re all extremely relieved that Carl survived this horrific accident and walked away with minor injuries.

“I’m hoping that during Royal Mail/CWU Road Safety Week, that Carl Prendagast’s story and the photographs of his accident will help raise awareness of the vital importance of Seat Belts.”

During the Road Safety Week – Seat belts Campaign, Royal Mail and the CWU will be working together to raise awareness and promote the importance to CWU members who drive as part of their job, the importance or wearing their seat belts, through posters on workplace noticeboards, in work time briefing sessions, via website articles, through road safety video clips and case studies like Carl’s case – in order to get the message across how important this message is.

Dave concluded with a salient warning message to all CWU members: “Seat Belts have been a legal requirement in the UK since 1983 and contrary to a common urban myth that still prevails, Royal Mail and Parcelforce Drivers are NOT exempt from this Law – so don’t get caught out!”

(Royal Mail Group Road Safety Week 3 – 9 June)