‘It was the worst day of my life’: drink-driving crash victim implores Kiwis to drive sober

Posted on

This article was first published on Stuff, Oct 10 2018.

It’s been three years, to the day, since Leah Abrams survived a car crash caused by a driver who had been drinking. The Aucklander escaped the harrowing crash with a broken arm but took on a year’s worth of trauma and healing.

“I saw a car swerving on the other side of the road in front of me, so I pulled back,” Abrams said. “I saw his lights coming into my vehicle, my hands came off the wheel and I laid down across the seat and put my hands across my face. “I protected my back and my skull; I saved my own life that night,” she said.

On New Zealand's first national awareness day for drink and drug driving, Abrams is urging New Zealanders to make sober driving a priority.
On New Zealand’s first national awareness day for drink and drug driving, Abrams is urging New Zealanders to make sober driving a priority.

Boxed in between the drink-driver’s car and a parked car, Abrams waited, panicking, for emergency services to cut her out of the vehicle. “It was the worst day of my life,” she said of the October 10, 2015 crash.  After two surgeries and two months off work, she spent all of 2016 recovering from damaged nerves and an agitated shoulder.

Abrams was injured in a car accident on Mt Eden Rd and boxed in by a parked car and the drink-driver's car.
Abrams was injured in a car accident on Mt Eden Rd and boxed in by a parked car and the drink-driver’s car.

But what Abrams wasn’t prepared for was the trauma she felt going back on the road. “Getting in a vehicle, getting behind the wheel of a vehicle, driving again, driving late at night, driving down little roads, all those things. It’s a huge journey,” she said.

From June 2017 to June 2018, there have been more than 53,000 alcohol-related offences on New Zealand roads, while drug-related offences sit at 1179, police statistics show.

Emergency services had to cut Abrams out of her smaller vehicle, on the right.
Emergency services had to cut Abrams out of her smaller vehicle, on the right.

On New Zealand’s first national awareness day for drink and drug driving, Abrams is urging New Zealanders to make sober driving a priority. “It’s staggering that New Zealand’s drunk and drug statistics are so high,” she said. “I was stunned to learn that last year there were over 2000 fatal or injury crashes caused because of people driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”

Abrams had to have two surgeries and a year of physiotherapy to mend her broken arm.
Abrams had to have two surgeries and a year of physiotherapy to mend her broken arm.

Abrams launched the charitable trust No one Ever Stands Alone (NESA) in 2016. Its objective is to put an end to drink and drug driving and provide support for victims and their families. Volunteers often stand with police at drink driving checkpoints, thanking sober drivers with cards and lollies.

NESA, No one Ever Stands Alone, is a charitable trust that promotes sober driving and supports victims and their families.
NESA, No one Ever Stands Alone, is a charitable trust that promotes sober driving and supports victims and their families.

“We really want to promote the sober driving message and connect with the community and echo the police message promoting sober driving,” Abrams said.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s