Liam Longbottom knows he could have been a crash statistic.
With fatigue-related fatal accidents on the rise in Western NSW, he could have easily been among the numbers.
Mr Longbottom was travelling to work on the Henry Lawson Way between Forbes and Young in January when he fell asleep and his vehicle hit a tree.
It was just the second day he had been doing the 1.5 hour commute.
“The police and emergency services said they don’t really come to crash scenes like that expecting anyone to be alive,” he said of the accident, which left him unable to work for six months.
“It was an old van I was driving and had next to no protection. I know how lucky I am to be alive.”
Mr Longbottom was only asleep for a second or two, but in that time the vehicle had veered off the road, through a ditch, and into a tree.
He was trapped, unable to move. His mobile phone was damaged as his car hit a tree at nearly 100 kilometres an hour, and he couldn’t reach it anyway.
His left leg was badly broken, with the bone sticking out, while his right knee was fractured and ligaments were torn.
It wasn’t until he was found by a passing motorist, almost half an hour after the crash, that emergency services were called.
“I was conscious but not really with it. I knew that not many people used that road at that time of day and it was about half an hour before someone found me,” Mr Longbottom said.
It was another hour before he was cut out of the van and taken by ambulance to a nearby rugby ground, before being airlifted to hospital at Canberra.
Mr Longbottom said he had never really thought about the dangers of fatigue, but just a short time before his crash he had pulled over for a power nap.
“Unfortunately that wasn’t enough,” he said.
“I didn’t realise how dangerous it [fatigue] can be when you are driving but I won’t make that mistake again.”