Five years ago, Steve Page lost his leg following a motorcycle crash. He shares his story and to encourage others to stay safe on our roads.
Steve Page loved riding. But then, one afternoon in 2018, while riding with his cousin, he was caught in a motorcycle crash that left him with an amputated leg. He might be leading a largely uninhibited life now, but the impact of the crash has stayed with him.
As a mature rider who had loved motorcycling for many years, Steve knew what he was doing, and yet an ill-fated meeting with a 4WD and a horse float in the Adelaide Hills became unavoidable.
‘Defensive riding’ is a popular term that encourages motorcyclists to consider the dangers on the road and not be surprised by the actions of others.
Steve was doing just that, and had put himself in the right position to make a turn, but despite this he ended up highside and heading straight for a metal wheel arch on a horse float.
“If the horse float never had guards, I would have gotten away with it,” says Steve.
“But I went in between the guard and the horse float and that was full impact on one leg.”
Want to hear more of Steve’s story? Then listen to the podcast. Want to hear more of Steve’s story? Then listen to the Hot Topics podcast.
For those who don’t know, highside is the worst way to come off a motorcycle. The back tyre suddenly gains traction, and violently flips you forward with the bike following behind.
Unlike a lowside crash, where the distance you fall onto asphalt is much lower, falling highside has a much greater impact on the rider. They don’t only have to worry about being launched into another object on the ride, but the bike can also careen towards them.
Steve’s injuries were miraculously isolated to his leg, which was broken in four places. His foot was almost spinning around the end of his leg and his femur was jaggedly poking out the front of his thigh.The imagery is graphic but the reality was much worse.
Steve recalls what he remembers of his injuries.
“I couldn’t work out why they [the paramedics] couldn’t get me comfortable… I was trying to get them to put my leg down on the road. The angle the [femur] bone was sticking out at was pointing in the air and my whole body felt that was where my leg was”.
Steve fell in and out of consciousness and was then woken up hours after his crash, hazy in a hospital bed, and being asked for permission to amputate his leg.
For the sake of Steve’s kids, his ex-wife, his friends, and his extended family, he is grateful to be here. It is no easy thing to come to terms with the needless mess of trauma from a joyride in the Adelaide Hills, but Steve is here, living his life, and sharing his story as a cautionary tale not to discourage riders, but to protect them.
With all the drama of the crash and the immediate medical saga, the reality of Steve’s injury would not set in for a while.
The immediate response of doctors, paramedics, nurses and loved ones following Steve’s crash was invaluable, but he continues to require ongoing support in recovery through organisations like the Lifetime Support Authority (LSA).
The LSA is a statutory authority that supports people like Steve, who sustain serious injuries in a motor vehicle accident on South Australian roads. If you haven’t heard of them, next time you get a vehicle registration renewal reminder, check for the Lifetime Support Scheme levy. That’s the LSA collecting the resources to provide treatment, care and support, regardless of who was at fault in the crash.
The LSA was right there at Steve’s bedside within hours of his surgery, making sure he knew he would be taken care of.
But Steve’s story doesn’t just highlight the power and importance of responding to road trauma.
While Steve was in an unlucky accident, he still knows that prevention is the best medicine which is why he is a staunch advocate of the South Australian Police’s (SAPOL) current ‘Back Off’ campaign.
Back Off: What’s the campaign about?
In an effort to reduce serious injuries and fatalities from motorcycle crashes in South Australia, SAPOL has been running a campaign to discourage riders from taking their bikes to the edge of their abilities and to ‘back off’ the throttle.
Most riders connect to freedom and thrill seeking as the desire to ride, but motorcycle fatalities are often found on curved sections of road where riders enjoy taking speed into the bends.
The problem with ‘dropping knees’ like you see in MotoGP, and taking a corner quickly is that more than half of motorcycle crashes between 2018 and 2021 resulting in serious injury and life loss were motorcyclists being run off a curved section of road.
“Make sure you’ve got all the gear on. And if you’re not that good, don’t do that. Ride within your ability. By the time you find out that you’re not that good, you’ve come unstuck,” Steve says.
So far this year, there have been 74 deaths on SA roads – three more than all of 2022. Of the 71 lives lost last year, 18 per cent were motorcyclists, while 149 riders and passengers were seriously injured.
“Riders are aware of the dangers associated with riding but sadly that is not enough to stop them from making poor decisions and taking extreme risks which too often result in catastrophic outcomes,” says Superintendent Darren Fielke, Officer in Charge of Traffic Services Branch at SAPOL.
Steve’s story serves as a cautionary tale, that it doesn’t matter how experienced you are, the dangers are always there. With the “Back Off” campaign, SAPOL aim to connect with riders who value the heightened sensory experience of riding. By confronting motorcyclists, the hope is they stop thrill-seeking behaviour and approach a joyride with the intent to return.
If you would like to know more about the Lifetime Support Authority and its work, you can visit its website here.