Driver survives slamming into overturned truck on dark Nullarbor highway


Posted

October 21, 2018 07:30:04

Darren Beer thinks he is lucky to be alive.

He was driving along a pitch-black Eyre Highway at 110kph with 12 hours of travel to go before reaching Perth, when his high beams lit up the underbelly of an overturned truck.

“Out of nowhere, no time to react … the only time I knew it was there was when I was on it,” Mr Beer told the ABC from his Royal Perth Hospital bed this week.

“It was like a brick wall … then that was it, just a bounce — I remember the pain.”

He did not know it at the time, but the 46-year-old shattered his foot, broke his elbow in half, fractured his ribs and snapped his kneecap in the crash in the early hours of October 12.

But his broken body was not his only concern.

“My car had actually caught fire,” he said.

“Luckily the people that were there had a fire extinguisher and were able to put that out, because if they hadn’t I believe I wouldn’t be telling the story.”

West Australian Police said the truck had overturned about 30 minutes earlier, blocking both lanes of the highway.

The truck driver and passenger suffered serious but non-life threatening injuries.

Mr Beer said passing motorists had stopped to help the truck driver and his passenger, but no-one was on the opposite side of the truck.

He said the truck’s dark underside blended in with the road and there were no lights working on the damaged vehicle.

The former tow truck driver was trapped in his car for more than two hours waiting for emergency crews to arrive from the small mining community of Norseman.

“I didn’t think I was going to make it,” he said.

“At times like that you go numb, you think of your family, the people that you care about and if they are ever going to see you again.”

He was eventually airlifted to Perth where he remained in hospital for seven days.

Near-death experience leads to calls for safety lights

Mr Beer believed his ordeal highlighted the need for an emergency lighting system to trigger in the event of a crash, or something as simple as a reflective item to be installed on the underside of heavy vehicles.

“Just something that would give someone in my situation [a warning] because when a truck has overturned, it is complete darkness because there are no street lights out there,” he said.

“There’s nothing to warn you that it’s there.”

Mr Beer’s campaign has already reached WA Police Minister Michelle Roberts.

“On face value, that seems like a really good idea and certainly appears to have some merit, so I’ll be discussing this with the road safety commissioner,” the Minister said.

“I’ll ask [the commissioner] to consult with industry and provide me with advice, because if there are some simple things that can be done that would save lives in the future, I’m confident they would be keen to pursue that.”

WA Road Transport Association executive officer Cam Dumesny said the idea was worth investigating.

“It certainly makes sense. We would work with government to see if it’s worth progressing and has merit,” he said.

Topics:

road,

accidents—other,

activism-and-lobbying,

road-transport,

esperance-6450,

balladonia-6443



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