‘I can still smell burnt rubber’: Survivor recalls horror smash
A GREAT Ocean Road car crash survivor is calling on all drivers to ensure they don't become distracted while behind the wheel, as motorists flock to the iconic route this National Road Safety Week.
Belmont resident Danielle McNally spoke out this week as Victorian roads see a major increase in traffic due to the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, with many drivers heading to the scenic Great Ocean Road.
Ms McNally, her husband and their three young children were driving along the Glenaire stretch of the road in February 2017 when a blue Toyota crossed the double lines and slammed head-on into their Commodore. They were both driving at about 90km/h.
"We were just out on a family outing, as we did every weekend," Ms McNally said. "We had a good day out and were travelling home, and as we travelled home … I noticed a car of international tourists coming the opposite way, but he was staring up into the trees. I could see him veering over towards us."
"He hit us and our car spun around and did a 180, and a car coming in the other direction ran up the back of us.
"It caused a four-car pileup that could have been avoided. I sustained a neck and left shoulder injury. I never anticipated the accident would have such a big impact on my mental health.
"Mentally and physically, it's the worst thing that can happen to you. I can still smell the burnt rubber, the petrol and hear the sound of the tyres. The driver, his child and pregnant partner were badly injured."
Ms McNally said National Road Safety Week and the easing of COVID-19 restrictions was the perfect time for motorists to think about the importance of staying safe on the roads - and particularly avoiding distractions.
"Don't take your eyes off the road for a minute," she said. "Anything can happen."
"There's nothing so important you can take your eyes off.
"You don't have to put other road users in danger."
Slater and Gordon Geelong Lawyer Sarah Elseidy, who is representing the McNally family for their Transport Accident Commission (TAC) claim, joined the call for drivers to think about road safety.
"We're about to see more people taking long road trips and getting behind the wheel when they haven't done so for six months or more," Ms Elseidy said. "Drivers may be at risk of distraction when roads are busy and people are rushing to see family or arrive at their destination."
"We're urging everyone to be mindful of road safety to ensure people can enjoy seeing friends and family and avoid the devastating consequences of being involved in a road trauma."
Originally published as 'I can still smell the burnt rubber': Survivor recalls horror smash