He’s lost a leg and a hand, suffered burns to 40 per cent of his body, broken his back and fractured his skull, but Dubbo’s Jamie Manning considers himself one of the lucky ones.
Three-and-a-half years ago Mr Manning was involved in a serious car accident three kilometres from his home. Now he’s one of the ambassadors for a new road safety campaign highlighting the risk taking excuses people make on country roads.
There’s a focus on teenagers taking risks but the father-of-three said he wanted to draw attention to men aged between 30 and 50.
Mr Manning said complacency played a large role in his accident. He said driving on the same road he had travelled so many times before made it easy for him to think about what he was going to do when he got home, rather than concentrating on the last leg of the drive.
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“I was travelling home from work and had a truck come around the corner. It was a narrow road and I ended up coming off the road and running into a tree. I was trapped in the car and the car caught alight,” Mr Manning said.
After a lot of struggle from neighbours who rushed to the scene, a neighbour managed to pull him from the burning car.
“It was a matter of 90 seconds of getting out of that car that it blew up and was engulfed in flames, that’s how close it was,” he said.
He was lucky to survive but there are still simple tasks Mr Manning is unable to do.
“When accidents do happen you don’t realise what you do lose in terms of mobility. I can’t run now. I can’t go outside and play football with the kids,” he said.
“I was always good with timber and using my hands, chainsaws and stuff, but it’s certainly a lot harder with one hand.
“It’s been three and a half years without work. I’m just getting back to work now. And that takes a big toll on the family too, not being able to have that income.”
His wife, Karen Manning, said she had only returned to work within the past eight months.
The road toll affected families, she said, but there were also life-changing accidents.
Mr Manning said he wanted people to always be aware of their surroundings while driving.
“Everyone thinks it’s teenagers who always have the trouble but it’s actually middle aged men. Be it stress of work or having to be somewhere, providing for their families so they feel they have to push themselves a little bit harder, or they get complacent because they’ve been driving for so long,” he said.
“I guess the message is to be aware of surroundings on the roads and what can go wrong, be it complacency or tiredness or whatever. There are people who need you and rely on you.”
Everyone needed to be aware, said Ms Manning.
“We’re all in that opinion that it’s never going to happen to us, it’s going to be someone else. Until the day it does,” she said.