Five years ago, a speeding car that had run a red light struck Laura McLaughlin as she was crossing Fallowfield Road.
Fortunately, she suffered no major injuries, but a police officer on the scene told her mother, Brenda, that if Laura had taken another step farther into the intersection, she would likely have been killed.
Now age 21, the memory of the collision still has the power to make McLaughlin apprehensive whenever she crosses the street.
“In a sense I was lucky. I had no broken bones and was physically well except for a concussion and cuts and scrapes,” she said. “Unfortunately I was not ready for the psychological aftermath.”
She afterward suffered anxiety attacks when crossing a street, and would compulsively check both ways dozens of times before taking a step. A therapist diagnosed her with post-traumatic stress disorder.
McLaughlin was chosen as the honorary chairperson of the city’s “Speeding Costs You” campaign, as police seek to show how the consequences of driving over the speed limit can be much more serious than a ticket.
“People need to be paying attention to how they’re driving and speeding is a large cause of fatal accidents,” said Deputy Police Chief Sue O’Sullivan.
There were 40 fatal collisions in Ottawa last year, with more than half of those attributed to speeding motorists.
Heading into the long weekend, city officials are urging drivers to be cautious, said Mike Flainek, the city’s director of Traffic and Parking Operations, reminding drivers to slow down through signs and speed boards placed at high-collision intersections over the next three months.