PAIGE Armstrong has only recently found her feet again after suffering severe spinal injuries when her ex-boyfriend flipped his car on the A419 six months ago.
Daniel Penny, 25, of Eldene, was banned from driving for nine months after pleading guilty to driving without due care and attention before the crash on December 30 last year.He had only passed his test six weeks earlier.
Paige, 17, spent more than two weeks in hospital, having suffered two spinal fractures. She is likely to need surgery on her spinal column, which collapsed by 50 per cent.
Now her father is calling for tighter restrictions on new drivers carrying passengers after the number of collisions injuring young passengers has risen.
Paige said the couple had been driving around for the day and visited Barbury Castle before picking up two friends.
“He was driving like an idiot, going way too fast,” she said. “We were coming up to the North Swindon turning. As we got to the exit he realised it was the one he was supposed to take. There was a silver car turning in the right hand lane and he tried to cut in front so I screamed at him.
"That was why we missed the turning and arrived on to the Cricklade exit. He was doing silly speeds. I kept telling him to slow down, and our mates in the back were doing the same.
“After we had passed the third marker he asked if that was the turning he needed to take. He hadn’t slowed down much, and started braking as he came off. The road was wet and it was pitch black.
“He saw the tight bend and slammed on the brake but we went into the curb. We were all screaming at him at this point. The car was skidding everywhere and we went into the embankment.
“The tree came up at us in slow motion and hit the front of the car on my side. The car had flipped upside down and my knees were trapped.”
Paige managed to escape the car, but found she could not walk.
“When I woke up I heard screaming and couldn’t feel anything,” she said. “I tried to open my door but felt this pain in my back, and my seat belt was jammed. I managed to yank it up and wriggle out. I started walking away from the car but my legs just gave way.”
Paige was in hospital for more than two weeks before feeling returned to her legs.
Her parents Michael, 56 and Claire, 46, became full time carers during her rehabilitation.
“It was like watching your child take their first steps again,” said Claire.
“She was having trouble breathing and was on oxygen for quite a long time. We were very worried, because the splinters from the fractures could have severed the spinal cord, and we were not sure she would ever regain feeling in her legs.”
Michael said more needs to be done to tackle accidents caused by new drivers.
“I have been driving for 40 years and I think a lot of new drivers show off,” he said.
“I am getting more concerned about kids getting killed on the roads, nine out of 10 times it is a young person who loses their life.
“It is a trend that is getting overwhelming and there is not a weekend that goes by you don’t see kids getting in accidents. Most of those are new drivers.
“I do think new drivers should only be allowed passengers in the car during daylight hours, certainly not allowing children in the car until two years’ experience or so. It is often the passengers who get hurt, and it is the families who suffer.
“A car is a weapon, and it comes down to experience handling it.”