Too Close For Comfort
There I was, seven years old, sitting with my brother on the couch, most likely watching Disney Channel as was our typical go-to. The phone rings, and I instinctively go to answer it. I had answered our house phone several times before, and was used to hearing the caller ask for one of my parents, and handing the phone to them. What followed, though, wasn’t something I expected. After my initial “Hello”, the police officer introduced himself, and asked to speak with my father. I put him on, but quickly ran to pick up the other phone as I was terrified of what was going to follow. I listened closely as the police officer explained to my dad that my mom, in her Toyota, had been struck by a distracted driver in an 18 wheel truck. The truck had thrown my mom’s car up onto the curb, and upside down. The airbags had deployed. The car was totaled, but my mom was conscious and talking. I had no idea what to say. I was stuck. I couldn’t move. I knew I shouldn’t have listened in on the other line, but did anyways. I ran out, and quickly asked my dad to take me with him. I needed to see my mom in order to fully know she was alright. Looking back, I know my dad made the right choice having me stay home with our nanny. I know now that it wouldn’t have been good for me to see my mom in the state she was in that night. Even the next day – when she came home from the hospital, I was still not prepared. I will never forget the massive bruise that still is visible on her side, or the scratches that were on her face. It was absolutely terrifying. Flash forward nine years, and here I am learning to drive. I will never forget the first time I sat behind the wheel with my mom in the passenger seat. Before I could even ask a question, my mom became more serious than I had ever seen her be before. She turned to me, and said, “Listen. This is a privilege. You are about to do is maneuver a lethal weapon. It takes all of your attention.” She then lifted the side of her shirt to show me the bruise – as if I had forgotten. “I never want someone else to have to go through what we went through knowing you were the cause of the accident.” My mom really scared me when she said these words to me. I had never seen her this serious, and her words stick with me to this day. Later on, once I got my license, I always offered to drive. I knew that I was a safe driver, and my parents knew too. I had a friend follow me once, and when we got to a red light, she took out her phone. She didn’t know my story with distracted driving, but when we got to her place, I told her, and she told me she never believed those incidents could ever happen to people she knew. She always thought they were one of those things you hear about in the news, but it will never happen to you or someone you know. This is why I want to share my story. Luckily my mom was ok, but there are way too many lives that are lost due to distracted driving. Lives that could so easily have been saved. People need to understand that distracted driving is real, and can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime. I hope that by sharing this story, more people will realize how critical it is to put the phone down while driving. So seriously – put your phone down. It can save a life.