Accident Number Nine: 0 Lives Left
So, car accident number NINE just happened.
That’s right, I’ve now been in NINE auto accidents. I have ZERO lives left.
Throughout my 53 years, I’ve been bashed around in vehicles enough to rival many crash test dummies.
You can click on this link to read about all of the others if you’re so inclined. My Eight Car Accidents and the Road to Recovery.
Once again, we were simply stopped, waiting for someone to turn left onto a side street and this big old Yukon truck, being driven by a reckless teen, barreled into a little white car, that smashed into another SUV that smashed into our car that was . . . wait for it . . . ONE WEEK OLD! Frankly, this is the third new car we’ve had that has been hit before it even reached the two week mark. The two new cars prior to this one were totalled.
Thankfully, the damage to our car was minimal. We’ll need a new bumper and maybe hatchback door. But now it’s been compromised. Who knows what kind of unseen structural damage has been done to the undercarriage.
Everyone in our car, at least at this point, seems like they’re fine, and that’s a blessing of which I have to keep reminding myself even as my hands still quake. Except for me, that is. I was tensed and waiting for the impact, so my neck is killing me, and so it’s back to the chiropractor I go.
Each time I’m involved in an accident, my reaction is less and less gracious. And that makes me feel very small. The first few times I was hit, I attempted to soothe the driver and assure them that they were okay as was I. I’ve stopped doing that. Try as I might, I can’t muster the spirit to do that. Last night I was spitting mad. Mad that, for some unknown reason, we’re continually speared by glass and steel lances on wheels. Mad that, if the three cars ahead of him were able to stop without an issue, why the hell couldn’t the last driver? Mad, frankly, that cellphones were ever invented.
The way I see it, there are three primary ways in which accidents affect victims.
First, foremost, and most obviously, they can physically hurt or kill you. And even if you don’t have any visible broken bones, scrapes, or contusions, accidents can screw up the alignment of your spine, which can lead to a laundry list of severe medical problems down the road. You’ll have to trust me on this one. I’m an expert witness.
Secondly, accidents completely disrupt your life, bringing with them seemingly endless red tape battles with insurance companies, and car restoration resources in addition to the time and inconveniences that go along with an accident like hunting down the police accident record, driving around in unfamiliar rental cars, getting a “fixed” car back with new and improved issues, and sometimes even having to go through the hassle of buying another car to replace yours that was totalled.
And thirdly, they mess with your head. They make you hyper aware of the constant peril you and your loved ones are in while behind the wheel. Given my accident track record, I don’t think there’s a single morning when I don’t say, “I love you. BE SAFE!” before someone leaves the house and mean it with all of my being. More often than not, if I realize that I’ve neglected to give them a hug as they walk out the door, I throw down whatever I’ve been working on and run to catch them in an embrace as they’re stepping out the door and hang on tightly, as if it’s the last hug I’ll ever receive because my head screams, “IT TRULY MIGHT BE!” Reoccurring accidents heighten one’s sense of mortality to a level that’s hard to convey. And it’s not in a jolly “Carpe Diem!” kind of way, either. At least it’s not for me.
Although I love traveling, I’m not up to climbing into a car and going on a trip at the moment. I don’t care who’s driving either. The whole idea feels way too risky right now, and accidents feel all too inevitable. Heck, driving the kids to a doctor appointment and then Culvers for lunch yesterday was more than my accident-addled brain was truly ready for. But back onto the horse I climbed. I have little choice in our suburban sprawl community.
In terms of this most recent accident, there weren’t any skid marks behind the Yukon that slammed into the rest of us. It would seem that the driver didn’t even touch the brakes. He simply plowed into a row of cars at full speed, distracted with whatever it was he was doing besides driving. Perhaps he was texting. Perhaps he was wrapped up in an exciting chase during a round of “Pokemon Go.”
I asked the police officers to check his cellphone for activity just prior to the crash, and was told that it couldn’t be done because it would be invading his privacy. Really?! Never mind, however, his car invading our safety and potentially taking the lives of anyone who dares to drive on a street in front of him while he diddles away on his electronic devices.
After the impact, my husband quickly put our car in park and ran over to the white car two behind us to help pull a screaming woman out of the window since her door didn’t work and her car had begun smoking. He’s kind of my hero, and was hers last night as well. She, unfortunately, was in sorry shape since her airbag didn’t deploy, and was eventually taken away on a stretcher.
Imagine the nightmares she had last night and will continue to have for months on end. Imagine the pain and damage her body will suffer from this point forward. I know them well, and feel for her suffering.
When the driver who caused the accident stepped out of his vehicle, he didn’t offer an apology to any of the rest of us. No, “Gee I’m so incredibly sorry that I slammed into all y’all. Are you okay?” And then, when one of the men involved in the accident asked if he had been distracted by texting, he charged towards him in an aggressive way ready to take him and the world on. All we continually heard from the driver at fault was, “This is my parents’ car. They’re in Alaska and are going to be so upset.”
Uh huh. You know what? They’re going to have to wait it out at the back of the line.
I’ve been plowed into by an 80-something-year-old man who was no longer fit to drive, by three inexperienced teens, by a drunk driver, and by a crippled man with withered legs on crutches as well as other assorted folks. What I would like to say to them right now as my neck is still throbbing along with my runaway pulse is if you can’t responsibly handle a car, DON’T! Driving is a privilege, not your God-given right.
Also, why in God’s name can’t people be more aware when they’re driving? Put the damn cellphone down. Do not incessantly fiddle with your radio, do not text and drive, do not drink and drive, and for the love of all things holy do not chase Pokemon cartoon characters when you’re behind the wheel.
The impacts we, as drivers, have on the real lives of the people in the cars around us, both literally and figuratively, are infinitely more important.