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Seatbelt could have saved woman's life

PUBLISHED: 13:04 21 January 2011

A CORONER has warned against the dangers of drink-driving and of not wearing a seatbelt after a poultry worker died in a crash on a country road near Bungay.

Heidi Smith could have survived when she crashed on the road that she lived on in Flixton if she had been wearing a seatbelt, the inquest heard.

And this led Greater Suffolk Coroner Dr Peter Dean to issue a warning to other drivers to belt up and not drink when driving.

The inquest, held at Lowestoft Magistrates Court, heard that Ms Smith, of Abbey Road, Flixton, crashed her family’s red Skoda at 10.15pm on Wednesday, August 18.

Reading police reports Dr Dean said that Ms Smith, 35, veered off Abbey Road one mile away from her home, crashing back into the middle of the road, which threw her from the car.

She had been driving in the opposite direction of her home.

Two members of the public found Ms Smith and called the emergency services, staying with her until they arrived. She died at the scene.

Dr Dean explained that a toxicology report showed she had 108mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood. The legal limit is 80mg of alcohol.

He said: “We also hear from evidence that she was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected as a result of that.

“It she was wearing a seatbelt she would have sustained injuries, but it is believed it would have prevented her injuries that let to her death.”

Dr Dean said that a police report suggested the car did have minor faults which would have led it to fail an MOT test.

However, the defects, which included a slight problem with the suspension, were not believed to have contributed to the crash.

A failure to assess the road layout ahead was also ruled out as Ms Smith lived nearby and was therefore thought likely to have known the road well.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Dr Dean said: “This is a death in very tragic circumstances and emphasises the importance of not consuming excessive alcohol while driving and also the importance of wearing a seatbelt given the protection this offers should an accident occur.”

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