When I was 17 years old I found out about the importance of the defensive driving I was taught in Drivers ED. It all started when my uncle Everett asked for a ride to the grocery store. Ordinarily, he would have walked the ¼ mile up the sidewalk-less, windy hill, to get there, but due to the persistent rain that day and because it was rush-hour, the trip would have been dangerous. So I said yes to him, but I had no idea how unpredictable other drivers could be and how significant it is to pay attention to on-coming traffic, especially when approaching an intersection.
Before I encountered the event that struck a chord in me to never forget driving safety and awareness, Everett and I had to get there. First, we ran got inside my golden, compact-sized, ’95 Honda Civic.
“Buckle-up.” I said to him, as I pulled the strap of my seatbelt across my chest and fastened it into its connector.
“Right,” Everett replied. “Because you never know what might happen.”
As I navigated my car through the busy streets and up the steep serpentine hill, the sky seemed to open up and dump out buckets of water onto the herds of vehicles. Within minutes of the downpour, I had reached the store and let my uncle out to do his shopping. Suddenly the rain stopped and the sun was shining brightly as if the clouds had disappeared with the last drop of rain.
“Better make it quick!” I yelled out to Everett.
“I will!” He called back.
Shortly, Everett was back in the car and I was driving back towards the hill, on the way home. Following the road as it declined, first curving to the right, then to the left, an intersection at the bottom came into view. I could see vehicles in the on-coming traffics turn lane, which had to have had the green light to go, with the rule of yielding, because each driver was taking a timed turn through the juncture in front of me.
As I approached the intersection, I noticed a silver mini-SUV next in line to turn. Behind it was an older, white, heavy-duty pickup truck. I could see the mini-SUV speeding up to make its turn and the truck followed it closely, right into the intersection and into my path of travel. The mini-SUV then slowed because it was making a sharp turn, causing the truck to stop in the middle of the intersection.
Immediately I slammed on my brakes, but I was too late to stop. My car slid right into the corner of the trucks shiny metal bumper. The impact of my inferior fiberglass/aluminum frame with the trucks superior steel body caused my uncle and me to jolt forward and my car to jump back. A feeling of panic came over me as I heard my uncle cry out in pain. A burning sensation traveled down the left side of my neck and across my chest from the friction caused by my seatbelt cutting into my skin as it held me to my seat.
Minutes passed while I sat there dazed listening to my uncles cry’s turn into moan’s and then stop. I couldn’t move, my knees had sharp shooting pains going through them, I was thinking they were broken. I felt helpless.
Soon I heard siren’s and knew rescue was coming. I could hear the hiss of the breaks on what had to be a large vehicle.