Crash victim calls for new 'mobile' law

A WOMAN nearly killed in a car crash with a driver who was distracted by her mobile phone has called for tougher sentencing for people flouting the law.

James Hore

A WOMAN nearly killed in a car crash with a driver who was distracted by her mobile phone has called for tougher sentencing for people flouting the law.

Lorraine Farrant was heading to collect her teenage daughter, Rosie, from a friend's house when she was in a head on collision with the BMW which had crossed to the wrong side of the road.

The 37-year-old driver of the BMW, whose details have not been released to the EADT, had looked away from the road when her phone rang and went straight into Mrs Farrant's Volkswagen Polo.

She pleaded guilty to careless driving and this month received a 28-day ban and fined £200.

But Mrs Farrant, a mother-of-two, has been left with lifelong physical and emotional injuries.

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It is now exactly a year since tougher legislation was brought in to deal with drivers using mobile phones, but Mrs Farrant said she did not think the deterrent of a £60 fine and three penalty points was enough.

And she pleaded for all drivers to simply switch off their phones in the car to avoid causing the heartache her family has suffered since the accident in Witham last July.

Her daughter, Rosie, 14, was driven past the scene of the accident by a friend of the family and realised something terrible had happened.

The 41-year-old broke her neck, collarbone, ribs, femur and ankle, suffered a cut to the back of her head and only her air bag saved her from facial scaring.

She was also left with internal injuries and had to be resuscitated three times and was in hospital for five months and now has to use a wheelchair.

She said: “I would say to people 'just don't do it', it is the people who they crash into that will have their lives ruined - the drivers are not the ones who will be affected by the consequences.

“The injuries I have are forever, I am very emotional and it has made me very angry and sometimes I am quite bitter about what has happened, but I try not to be as I am not that sort of person.

“I am very angry about it, not only because the driver was on her mobile phone, but also because she had children in the back of the car. I just could not believe it.

“The sentence she was given was so lenient. It was not enough to put other people off.

“Three points and £60 fine for people using a phone is not enough either.”

Her parents, James and Diane Farrant, from Maldon, have been looking after her every day since she came home and she said the accident had changed her life in so many ways.

“It did not just affect me - it has had a big impact on family and friends too. I used to go out socialising, enjoying meals and going bowling, but I can't do any of that now.”

Mrs Farrant was forced to leave her job at the petrol counter at Sainsbury's in Boreham, but revealed she one day hopes to work for Essex Air Ambulance which played a big part in helping to save her life.

“I hope to recover and have lots of nice holidays and get back to normality,” she said.

Norman Hume, chairman of the Essex Casualty Reduction Board, said he thought the sentence given to the driver involved sounded “light”.

“For some reason, a few people still think using a mobile phone at the wheel is acceptable, but Lorraine's story shows that it can never be.

“We must send out the message loud and clear to drivers not to answer or make calls or texts while driving and recent research shows there is clear support for that stance.

“I'd urge family, friends and employers not to call someone they think may be driving - because even a spilt second of distraction can easily lead to the destruction of people's lives.”

Mr Hume, who is also a county councillor, said it was policy that employees were not to use mobiles in their vehicles and revealed hands free kits were not allowed either.

james.hore@eadt.co.uk