Personal Injury, Serious Injury & Clinical Negligence

Birmingham lawyer rides in to help Department of Transport promote “Think Biker” Campaign

Clarke Willmott, Birmingham lawyer has ridden to the aid of the Department of Transport to help drive up awareness of its summer ‘Think Biker’ safety campaign.

Felicity Rackstraw, a paralegal in our Birmingham office, is a motorcycle fanatic. The 37 year old, from Audley near Newcastle under Lyme, regularly commutes to work on her 1000cc Suzuki and spends much of her spare time out on the road on two wheels.

The ‘Think Biker!’ campaign is a cause very close to Felicity’s heart, having suffered a horrific bike accident back in August 2010. As a former motorcycle training instructor, Felicity had been out with a group of learner riders on the A50 near Burton on Trent when she was hit from behind by an inexperienced driver.

Felicity explained: “We were on our way back from a training session and I had stopped at a roundabout. Unfortunately the motorist behind me did not bother checking to see whether I had moved on and slammed into me, sending me and my bike flying across the tarmac”.

“I think the adrenaline must have been pumping because despite being badly injured I got to my feet and gave him a lecture! The next thing I knew my legs just buckled beneath me and I ended up being flown by air ambulance to Derby Royal Infirmary.”

Felicity suffered a C6 fracture to her neck as well as injuries to her back and wrist. Her 650cc BMW motorcycle was completely written off and the motorist who caused the accident received points on his licence and a fine, after agreeing to undergo driver retraining.

Four years on, Felicity has made a good recovery. However, she admits that she was lucky not to have been even more badly injured and believes that wearing correct protective clothing helped minimise her injuries.

She continues: “I’m the first to admit that wearing leathers in the middle of summer is often hot and uncomfortable.  However, the right equipment can quite literally be a lifesaver. My leathers took the brunt as I skidded across the road. If I had just been wearing a Tee shirt that day, it would have been my skin making contact with the tarmac.  I am a huge advocate of wearing the correct gear because I’ve seen the damage that can be done and it’s just not worth the risk.”

The Department of Transport’s ‘Think Biker!’ campaign, which warns both motorists and bikers to look out for each other on the roads, is a timely reminder. Motorcycle accidents typically rise in the summer months as more bikers take advantage of the warm, dry weather.  Even though bikers represent only one per cent of road traffic, they account for 20 per cent of road fatalities.

Philip Edwards, a Partner, and Road Traffic Accident legal expert who heads up our specialist serious injury team in our Birmingham office, said: “We are totally behind Felicity and the Department of Transport’s ‘Think Biker!’ campaign. Felicity is a friend and colleague and she should always be able to travel to work in safety. All too often I see the devastating consequences, when a family loses a loved one, or someone suffers life changing injuries as a result of a road collision and the high number of preventable accidents which lead to these tragic events remains a national scandal”.

“BRAKE, the road safety charity will also be campaigning later this year with the theme of “look out for each other” during Road Safety Week. Initiatives by both BRAKE and the Department of Transport are vital in raising awareness because there needs to be a change in culture so that motorists and riders treat each other with mutual respect. Only by encouraging all road users to behave responsibly will we reduce the carnage on our roads”.

See Birmingham Mail’s article on this campaign.