Over the weekend, five teenagers from my neighborhood were killed in a car accident when they drove into oncoming traffic and crashed into another car, severely injuring them as well. As someone who has been in an intense car accident–due to a lack of carelessness and inexperience–I can sort of relate. I know the fear that probably went through their minds and I know first hand what it’s like for the parents that have to hear their children have been in an accident. I’m lucky to be alive and I’m even more thankful for the fact that no other cars were involved in my accident. If there had been, I would probably be in prison, and not writing this story. I’m using second person for (what should be) obvious reasons.
You’re tired and all you want to do is go home, but you also want to prove to your friends that you earned your license. Your friends have been driving much longer than you have, so you feel you have to play catch-up. You’re aware of the dangers of speeding; Driver’s Ed is still fresh in your mind, but you don’t care. You think you’re invincible, but you’re not; you just don’t know that yet.
You’re flying down the empty highway on a cool, autumn day. You just got back from the gym, so you’re brain is still in overdrive and you’re not thinking straight due to the adrenaline. During lunch at school, you were talking to your friend about finally being able to drive.
The other day, in your friend’s car, you watch nervously as the speedometer gradually increases. Fifty; sixty; seventy. You hit seventy-five and you wish you still wore diapers, but you’re overcome by the rush and you actually hope for eighty. Eight-five; ninety. You look over at your friend and he looks back at you. You tap him on the shoulder; the sign that you’ve had enough. As the car slows down, you come down as well. You laugh about how lucky you were that there were no cops around.
The feel of the rush comes back as you’re driving home and it needs to be satisfied. As the speedometer climbs, you’re mood does as well. You don’t think you’re tired from school because all you did in class was sleep, and you did a “light” workout at the gym, so you’re not too sore. You don’t realize the road you’re speeding on is filled with turns. Ninety; one hundred. One hundred miles per hour–and your exit’s coming up.
You think you have time to slow down, but you’re going way too fast for your mind to even process the speed. You hit the break and you’re praying as the speedometer slowly descends. It’s going down too slow. Cars start to appear in front of you and there’s no time to slow down safely. You slam the break, forgetting it had rained earlier in the day.
Sixty-five miles per hour, your speedometer reads, as you slowly lose control of the back tires and come to the realization that you’re going to die. The car is pointed straight at the trees on the side of the road. At this point, the steering wheel is useless, no matter how hard you turn it. Your fate is now in someone else’s hands.
Your life isn’t flashing before your eyes, because you know you aren’t going to die in peace. You’re going to die a violent death, and you hate yourself because it could have been prevented. You grip the wheel, lock your arms, and brace for impact.
The windshield slowly cracks, as you watch the front of the car cave in the same way you’d crush an aluminum foil ball before throwing it out. You’re amazed that the two thousand pound hunk of metal you’re driving can be destroyed so quickly, and you wonder what would happen to your body.
The airbag deploys and luckily, you didn’t smash your head on the wheel. You come to the conclusion that you’re actually dead because there’s literally no way anyone could survive such a terrible crash. You turn the car off and check to make sure everything is still in place. You’re good, or so you think. You call your dad and tell him you’ve been in an accident, and how it looks bad, real bad, but you think you’re okay, and that he shouldn’t be worried.
A man driving on the highway sees the wreck, and he thinks he sees someone in the car. He pulls over and helps you out, asking if you hit your head. You tell him you’re okay as a soldier pulls over, asking the same thing. They call the police for you as your dad just pulls in, trying to hide how afraid he is.
It’s late and you walk in the front door. Your mom is in the kitchen with tears in her eyes, and you fall into her arms. She doesn’t yell because she can see you’re still in shock, and that you’ve learned your lesson. You faced death and won. You understand the value of life, and you realize how selfish you are for being so willing to risk it.