Autistic Mansfield teenager wins campaign to reduce speeds on busy A60

Lizzie Heeley 18 who was badly injured after she was in collison with a car on the A60 near Portland College.
Lizzie Heeley 18 who was badly injured after she was in collison with a car on the A60 near Portland College.

The speed limit on a road near Mansfield is being reduced after a campaign by an autistic teenager who was left in a coma after being hit by a car.

Lizzy Heeley, (pictured) who lives in Mansfield, was hit on the A60, near Harlow Wood and Portland College, on September 28, last year.

The 19-year-old suffered broken bones and serious head injury, and spent two weeks at the Queen’s Medical Centre in a coma.

Since recovering from her injuries, Lizzy and her mum Marianne Heeley have been campaigning for improved safety measures.

Now, thanks to efforts, the speed limit on the stretch of road will drop from 50mph to 40mph in November.

A Nottinghamshire County Council spokesman said: “Following an extensive review and consultation, the current 50mph speed limit speed limit on a two-mile section of A60 Nottingham Road at Harlow Wood is being reduced from next month.

“The lower speed limit is being introduced following concerns raised by local residents regarding highway safety so these safety measure aim to enhance the safety of vulnerable road users including cyclists and pedestrians.

“The new speed limit will better suit the nature of the road as despite its relatively rural location, this section of the A60 is unique because of its hilly nature, the three large educational establishments in the immediate vicinity - two of which are for people with disabilities.

“Work to introduce the new speed limit are due to start next month - on November 13 - and will take two weeks to complete.”

Recounting the circumstances surrounding her daughter’s accident, Marianne said Lizzy - who suffers with autism and ADHD - was coming out of the college to catch the bus when the accident happened.

The 40-year-old said: “Lizzy, with her condition, is very time sensitive, if she or the bus is a few minutes late she has severe anxiety.

“She has been fighting for her independence, and on that day she had finished at college and was getting the bus home, something that was still new to her.

“She could see the bus pulling up and ran straight for it waving her arm to stop it.

“Then she was hit by a car travelling 40mph the other way.”

A spokeswoman for Nottinghamshire Police told the Post that no offences were alleged in relation to the accident.

Marianne says to keep Lizzy calm on that road she wears headphones - and was wearing them the day of her accident. She says this is because of the loud noises of the traffic going past, and they keep her at ease.

Lizzy and her mum have also launched a petition addressed to Mansfield MP Ben Bradley, calling for road safety adverts to be brought back.

When Lizzy came around 11 days after her accident, Marianne said her daughter was disgusted about the lack of road safety advertising.

Marianne said: “When I was younger I had cartoons like ‘Charlie Says’ and the ‘Hedgehog’ advert.

“She kept asking me why they weren’t on TV anymore, and why it had all changed.

“So we decided to launch a petition to try and get them back, and we have had an overwhelming response so far.

“I showed Lizzy the adverts we used to have and she sings along to them walking down the road now. If they can grab the attention of someone like her, then they will grab that of younger children too.

“If the advert was to be shown while everyone is sat watching X Factor it would change so much - just a 20-second showing would get people and families talking.

“We all tell our children to not cross the road without looking, and general road safety. But children with learning difficulties have added pressures on the so they need more guidance.”

Lizzy returned to Portland College for the first time since her accident on September 11.

The teenager said: “My friends have backed my campaign too by sharing my petition online.

“We need more road safety adverts, there are more hazards now than ever to distract us when crossing the road.

Lizzy returned to Portland College for the first time since her accident on September 11.

The teenager said: “My friends have backed my campaign too by sharing my petition online.

“We need more road safety adverts, there are more hazards now than ever to distract us when crossing the road.

Copy thanks to Nottingham Post