A FORMER Dorset Police officer says wearing a helmet "saved his life" after he was involved in a crash that left him with brain damage.

David Baker, 45 from Wareham, was riding his bike on his way home from work when he was involved in a crash that completely changed his life.

He said: “I was overtaken by a transit van and the driver immediately turned left onto her driveway, cutting straight across my path. Those few seconds of carelessness by the driver were life changing for me.”

David has no memory of the collision, but a witness nearby saw what happened.

He said: “I was catapulted from my bike and thrown head-first into the van. My head took the brunt of the impact and the huge dent in the rear of the van gives some idea of the force.

“My helmet saved my life. Without it, I wouldn’t be here today. The shell of the helmet was cracked, as was the hard, protective foam inside. If I wasn’t wearing one, I’m certain my prognosis would’ve been far worse.”

He was rushed to hospital and told the life-changing news that he had sustained a traumatic brain injury. He also had multiple fractures to his ribcage.

David said: “My entire life changed within those few seconds. The brain damage it caused is permanent for me." He now suffers with severe visual problems, has double vision and will have to wear an eye patch for the rest of his life.

As well as the physical challenges he’s faced, David also says the brain injury has had a huge impact on his mental health, struggling with depression and anxiety ever since the crash.

David is sharing his story from the incident back in August 2016 as part of a cycle safety campaign by the brain injury charity Headway, in the hope of educating others about staying safe on the roads.

At the time of the crash David worked as a Dorset Police officer, but his injuries were so severe that he was never able to return to the force. Instead he has taken up photography and, using his photography skills, David produced an advert to show his support for Headway’s cycle safety campaign.

He said: “Fast or slow, on forest tracks or city roads, the risks are just the same. All a cyclist can do is give themselves a chance and wear a helmet.

“I will never be able to go back to the way things were, but my helmet saved my life and it’s given me a chance to carry on living, growing and learning. I hope my story inspires people to use their head and use a helmet.”

Peter McCabe, chief executive of Headway, said: “We all think ‘it will never happen to me’, but every three minutes someone in the UK is admitted to hospital with a head injury – the effects of which can be devastating and life-long.

“By following safety advice and wearing a helmet, you will reduce the risk of sustaining a brain injury and help reduce the demands placed on our already-stretched emergency services.

“Put simply: use your head – use a helmet.”