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Like every other teenager, I was ready for the freedom of a car and driver license. I didn’t get mine until I had turned eighteen and landed my first job. From there, it only took me two weeks to get into my first accident. The police officer wrote the accident off as dangerous road conditions with a young driver at the wheel. That was all true. On the other hand, I was in the car with my best friend dancing to the music and focusing too much on our conversation to take that corner slower to see the thick mud lying like a blanket on the road. The accident was on New Year’s Day but it had nothing to do with celebrating the night before or staying up too late. That particular New Year’s had been wet all night. The rain poured most of the week and flooded many of our streets. Thick mounds of mud had slid into the roads several inches thick. I was taking a back road I was unfamiliar with but had used maybe once or twice before. I came around the corner within the speed limit but thanks to my immature skills and distractions in the vehicle, I didn’t pay attention to the thick patch of mud on the tight corner and my parent’s van spun out right on it. We weren’t hurt or going very fast, but it scared the heck out of us for a while.

Up until that corner on that day, I had been very vigilant on all the road conditions and the debris that had washed out on to the streets. My mistake was not following through for the entire drive on a road I did not know well to begin with. Did I learn my lesson? Yes, because I became a smarter driver and friends don’t distract me anymore. I have had accidents since then, one my fault; I got too close in the parking lot. That was my fault but I didn’t leave a scratch or a dent, so it wasn’t an issue for me or the other driver. The rest were on holidays, the pattern of my life, with hit-and-run drunk drivers on Memorial Day after my nephew’s Confirmation and flat out idiot drivers trying to prove their worth in a Honda Pilot on a busy freeway in San Diego. You go man! That accident occurred on April Fool’s Day right in front of the exit for Sea World and the San Diego Wild Animal Park. I guess the joke was on me. The driver tried to make a move a Smart Car wouldn’t fit into and hit two birds with one car (me and another driver at the same time).

I admit I have a few ticks on my driving record that most would not insure at the time; but I did learn from all of those and today I don’t turn on the radio, I don’t talk, text, or converse with passengers while driving. I drive right at the speed limit and I do look all around me constantly to make sure I didn’t miss an obstacle in the road, a pedestrian stepping off the curb, bad drivers, or anything else. I haven’t had an accident or ticket in years thanks to the past teaching me how to handle future drives.

Those accidents put the right amount of fear in me as well. I refuse to drive after storms, on holidays or busy weekends, I don’t talk on my cell, I leave the music off, and I keep the noise inside the vehicle to a minimum. The rule is “”No talking while I am driving”” in my car. I have a four-year-old son now and when he was born, that just added to my precautions. I became so paranoid someone was going to hit me and roll the vehicle with my newborn son in it. Four years later, I don’t panic anymore but I still worry other drivers on the road are not paying attention. I figure I need to be overly aware, if that’s possible, to anticipate any mistakes they might make so I can be ready and stay safe. I drive at a snail’s pace in the rain and take corners nice and slow. When you become a mother, you realize how dangerous a road is and use past mistakes to help you think safer. No phone call, no text, no conversation, and no song on the radio are worth losing your family over. My mistakes as a young driver are the teachable moments to my kids when they get behind the wheel so they don’t have to learn the way I did. If I am not an alert driver and teach them to be, I could lose them forever.

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Posted on May 28th, 2014 by Anonymous


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