I knew something was wrong that day before it happened. It was a Tuesday afternoon, and I was planning on taking a nap after I got home from school. It was a beautiful February day; the snow on the ground was finally melting away. I don't know what compelled me to stop trying to nap, but I got out of bed and agreed to go out with my friend. I am going to admit that I was going to ignore her text messages and nap, but I didn't. I changed my mind. As I drove back to school to pick her up, I felt deep in my gut that something was going to go wrong that afternoon. I regret not listening to my gut feeling.
I was a pretty decent driver. I passed the road test on the first try. I took driver's ed over the summer and an extra five weeks of driving lessons before I took the road test. I thought I was properly prepared for this newfound freedom I was granted through driving myself everywhere.
We were heading back home from Target, ready to veg out at her house for the rest of the day. I merged onto the main road, saw the green arrow signal on the traffic light was lit up, and was ready to make a left turn that would lead us straight home. Halfway through the turn, I heard a horn blare and saw a moving blob of white to my right. My friend let out a scream before an SUV crashed into us. My head slammed into the steering wheel as my torso was thrust back into my seat from the force of the impact. A metallic stench aided the growing clouds of smoke that temporarily blinded me.
It didn't register to me that I was involved in an accident. My senses went numb; I sat motionless in the driver's seat with my ears ringing loudly. I was brought back to reality when I heard my friend screaming next to me, "Get out of the car! Get out of the car!" The passenger's door was stuck shut, and the driver's door barely opened wide enough for both of us to crawl out. I stood in the middle of a busy intersection looking at the devastating sight of what was left of my car.
It was that moment two years ago that I became a statistic: the greatest chance of getting into a car accident occurs within the first six months of obtaining your license. I only had my license for six months. Teenagers are more at risk of getting into car accidents than adults. I was 17 years old. Motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of deaths in teenagers presently. I am lucky that I left that accident scene with just bruises: one below my left knee and a few on my hips.
The accident still haunts me today. I have constant nightmares about driving and having absolutely no control over the vehicle. I can still hear the sound of the pieces of my car being swept off the road. The acrid smell that filled the air in my car after the collision still lingers in my nostrils. Crunching sounds from the two cars crashing into each other repeats itself in my memory, frightening me at the worst of times. I can feel the ghost of the tears I shed slither down my cheeks. I have constant fits where bits and pieces of the accident will flash in the back of my mind. I get nervous when I am in a car, and I haven't been able to fully get back behind the wheel since.
It has been two years, yet I am still struggling to recover. My car and my time driving was taken away from me by one person's decision to run through a red light. I am aware that the accident was not my fault and I shouldn't beat myself up over it, yet I still feel responsible somehow. If I would've just stayed home that afternoon, I'd probably still have my car right now. I would still be living in a world where the fear of driving did not exist. I wouldn't fear the past repeating itself every time I stepped into a vehicle.
I am sharing my story to give support to anyone who has been involved in a car accident and to those who take advantage of driving. This article is not about how I received closure: this is an article about how I am still seeking closure. The redundant lectures and warnings about getting into an accident became a reality for me. It is a privilege to earn your license, not a right. Please be responsible and drive safely, because it could all be taken away from you in an instant.