Elizabeth Secoulidis’ life changed forever while attempting to cross the road in Tarneit. The 58-year-old was struck by a truck on 16 September last year after taking just a few steps across the intersection after the pedestrian light turned green.
“As I was waiting for the green signal to walk, I could see the truck driver appeared to be looking downwards. He looked distracted. After the signal to walk turned green, assuming that the driver of the truck was no longer distracted, I walked a couple of steps and the next thing I knew, I was hovering above myself. I could see the wheel of the truck and not much else,” Ms Secoulidis said.
Emergency services rushed her to the Royal Melbourne Hospital. She had suffered a deep scalp laceration, broken ribs and significant bruising to the right side of her body. The haematomas on her leg required multiple drainage procedures and she now attends regular physiotherapy sessions.
Using a walking stick to get around, the single mother says she has difficulty sleeping at night due to ongoing pain and nightmares, and struggles mentally to make simple decisions or remember words to use in conversation, making her day-to-day life a real challenge.
Ms Secoulidis has a message for drivers and road users about the consequences of mobile phone use and being distracted behind the wheel.
“People are too distracted and too focused on their phones, risking the lives of everyone else around them. You see it all the time. People are not watching the road and they are rushing when they shouldn’t be. The distraction of someone else behind the wheel of a truck, has caused me a great deal of pain and suffering,” she said.
“It’s not just the knock to the head and the memory loss, it’s the day-to-day loss of independence and having to re-live the trauma. I still have nightmares and I keep seeing the tyre of the truck. If you’re tempted to look at your phone, or look anywhere other than the road, don’t do it.”
Slater and Gordon Sunshine Practice Group Leader Craig Lynch, who is representing Ms Secoulidis in a motor vehicle accident claim, said pedestrians were some of the most vulnerable road users, having to trust drivers and those in vehicles around them to do the right thing, keep their eyes on the road and pay attention.
“Pedestrians really are at the mercy of other road users. You generally accept that cars coming through a crossing or intersection are going to follow the road rules, by giving way or stopping, especially if you have right of way while on foot. This is where driver distraction becomes a real problem and is often the cause of major road accidents,” Mr Lynch said.
“The injuries we see people suffer on the roads are preventable. Many of them are life-changing and the physical and mental damage can be irreversible. We all have the responsibility and the ability to keep one another safe on the roads.”
The Tarneit woman lives with her 25-year-old son and she relies on him even more now, following the crash.
“For the first six months he was cooking me food and making sure I was eating properly. He’s young and has been working all day. It used to be me cooking for him, so it’s hard for me. I have to rely on everyone else,” Ms Secoulidis said.
“Physically and mentally, everything has changed for me. I’m really restricted. I can’t even take my dog for a walk. I’m angry about the driver who only received a fine and lost a few demerit points. He hasn’t admitted to what he has done.”