Wednesday 22 October 2014

Paralysed cyclist in heartfelt safety plea to drivers

Published 04/08/2014 | 02:30

Vincent O'Driscoll
Vincent O'Driscoll

A cyclist who was paralysed after he was run over by a truck which had overtaken him on a narrow road has made a heartfelt plea for greater road safety in Ireland.

Vincent O’Driscoll (31) called on drivers to take greater care when they see cyclists on the road. His comments came as haulier Tim Walsh (49), from Glanworth, Co Cork, was jailed for three years for dangerous driving by the Circuit Criminal Court.

Walsh, whose lorry had 70 defects after a safety inspection, had overtaken Mr O’Driscoll 3km outside Macroom on the Cork road on August 7, 2013.

The rear wheels of the lorry rolled over Mr O’Driscoll, inflicting horrific injuries. The triathlon athlete’s spinal column was crushed and he was left paralysed.

The young man, who was in an induced coma for a month, now relies on a colostomy bag due to his severe bowel damage and also requires a catheter.

One of the 70 defects on the lorry was a broken side mirror – and Judge Sean O’Donnabhain said he felt that was a key element in the tragedy with Walsh having restricted rear visibility as he towed 42 tonnes of timber.

Walsh admitted dangerous driving and expressed his deep remorse for what happened.

“I think truck drivers in particular should take a lot more care,” said Vincent, who suffered such horrific injuries he was initially not expected to survive. Despite being confined to a wheelchair, he said he was lucky compared to some other cyclists.

“I came across people in the National Rehabilitation Hospital (in Dun Laoghaire) who were in similar places to me when they were hit,” he said.

“When trucks tried to overtake them and engaged in manoeuvres that they just should not be doing.

“Cars do the same but getting hit by a truck can be totally devastating. I am lucky to be alive – some people this year have not been that fortunate,” he added.

Vincent also said that councils need to make greater use of cycle lanes given the number of people now using bikes.

“In Dublin, in particular, you have cycle lanes everywhere, whereas across the [rest of] the country you don’t.

“I’ve been in Dublin for the last year and everywhere you look there are cycle lanes but they don’t have that down here.”

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