Craig Ernst has an important message this Road Safety Week
Craig Ernst has an important message this Road Safety Week Meg Bolton

A split second causes a life time of pain

CAMPING, kayaking and fishing aren't the only activities Craig Ernst misses - he even envies those well enough to go to work, but the doctors say he will never be able to again.

Craig was driving home from work when in a matter of seconds the Rockhampton man's life as he knew it changed forever.

He was rear-ended by a car while he was stopped at traffic lights at a road works in February.

He suffered extensive spinal and psych injuries, which required a spinal cord stimulator implanted in both his neck and lower back.

The accident instantly brought the 56-year-old's 20-year labouring career to an end - it also reinvented how he saw travelling on the road.

"I try to avoid driving,” Craig said.

"If I have to drive I'm really cautious looking around and just worrying about things until I get to the destination I'm going to.”

The sight of cars, lights and people are enough to send Craig into restlessness.

"It's been really hard,” he said.

Before the accident Craig enjoyed an outdoors lifestyle and walked regularly but now he even struggles to help around the house - washing dishes causes him pain.

He couldn't have done it without his supportive wife, but if the accident didn't happen his life would be much different.

Craig urged people to be mindful on the road, especially next week the Queensland Road Safety Awareness Week, which runs from August 26 to 31.

"You should be aware when you're driving on the road and be cautious and obey the speed limits,” he said.

"Be aware, hop in your car and look around before you even start and look around when you're driving and stay focused.”

Craig is currently seeking compensation for his injuries to cover his basic living costs and medical bills.

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers principal Meghan Rothery said Craig was one of many Central Queenslanders in need of compensation because of avoidable accidents.

"Craig's injuries are so serious doctors agree that he is unable to return to the job he's done all his life,” Ms Rothery said.

"It means he's put in a position not able to earn an income.

"One second on the road can make a life time of difference for people involved in accidents and also their families.”

A total of 20 per cent of accidents involved speeding, 17 per cent involved drink drivers and 12 per cent involved fatigue, according to Ms Rothery.

"These are conditions people can control when they are entering our roads,” Ms Rothery said.

"These are things people ought to be aware of when they are getting behind the wheel.

"They are not only putting their own lives at risk but pedestrians and other road users.”

She said roadworks were also a hotspot for accidents.

Road Safety Week is a government initiative to encourage people to be mindful on the roads.



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