David Baker knows just how important wearing a cycle helmet is after one “saved his life” in a road traffic collision.
David, 45 from Dorset, is sharing his story as part of Headway’s Cycle Safety campaign in the hopes of educating others about staying safe on the roads.
In August 2016, David was riding his bike on his way home from work when he was involved in an accident that completely changed the course of his life.
He said: “I was overtaken by a transit van and the driver immediately turned left onto her driveway, cutting straight across my path. Those few seconds of carelessness by the driver were life changing for me.”
David has no memory of the accident, but a witness nearby saw what happened.
He said: “I was catapulted from my bike and thrown head-first into the van. My head took the brunt of the impact and the huge dent in the rear of the van gives some idea of the force.”
Thankfully, David was wearing a helmet.
“My helmet saved my life,” he said. “Without it, I wouldn’t be here today. The shell of the helmet was cracked, as was the hard, protective foam inside. If I wasn’t wearing one, I’m certain my prognosis would’ve been far worse.”
He was rushed to hospital and told the life-changing news that he had sustained a traumatic brain injury. He also had multiple fractures to his ribcage.
David said: “My entire life changed within those few seconds. The brain damage it caused is permanent for me. I now suffer with severe visual problems; my brain can’t fuse together the images that my two eyes capture.
“This means I have double vision and will have to wear an eye patch for the rest of my life.”
As well as the physical challenges he’s faced, David also says the brain injury has had a huge impact on his mental health.
“Ever since that day I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety and it’s changed me as a person. I’m almost four years on from my accident now, but the demons still raise their head from time to time. Every time I look in the mirror at myself it’s an unwelcome reminder of what happened to me.”
At the time of the accident David worked as a police officer, but his injuries were so severe that he was never able to return to the force. Instead, he has taken up photography and is set to study at Arts University Bournemouth this October.
He said: “Although initially difficult to accept, I now consider myself extremely lucky to be alive and to pursue an alternative career as a photographer.”
Using his photography skills, David produced an advert to show his support for Headway’s Cycle Safety campaign.
He said: “There are many people not as fortunate as me – there are couples that cannot cope with the stress and separate; families that are torn apart; children left without a parent or sibling. This is why I am an advocate for wearing a cycling helmet at all times.
“I was hit by a van, but I could have suffered the same injury falling off my bicycle and hitting my head on the pavement or colliding with a fixed structure. Fast or slow, on forest tracks or city roads, the risks are just the same. All a cyclist can do is give themselves a chance and wear a helmet.
“I will never be able to go back to the way things were, but my helmet saved my life and it’s given me a chance to carry on living, growing and learning.
I hope my story inspires people to use their head and use a helmet.
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