Content warning: This post contains detailed description of a fatal car accident and the victim’s body.
I got in my last var accident seven and a half years ago, after a period of frequent collisions for several years. Car accidents were a fact of life growing up, and I long ago lost track of my total. Some were my fault, some weren’t. For most of them, I was a passenger.
On that particular day, the accident was both mild and my fault. I’d been using my Blackberry at red lights to answer work emails, and had started creeping forward when the light turned green. I slowly crashed into the still car in front of me. Our cars were fine, we were fine, but I was shaken up. When my time with that car was over, I didn’t replace it.
I’ve lived seven years without a car now, walking, taking the bus, using Lyft, and staying home. I have many reasons to choose this, including the tremendous financial savings. But at the end of the day, I’d find a way to pay for it if I really wanted a car. I really don’t. I take driving far too seriously.
I saw a pedestrian die before my eyes when I was a child, maybe six years old. My grandmother struck her so hard that her body flew up and landed heavily on the car, her head cracking the windshield as she died instantly, inches from my face. We were too poor to replace the windshield so every day for the next year or two I saw that mark, the location and cause of her death. I stopped riding in the front.
I was scared to drive. As a teenager I put off getting my learners permit for six months. I didn’t want the responsibility, didn’t want someone else’s life in my hands. But once I learned, driving was fun and it gave me freedom. For a few years I was an avid if incompetent driver. I got tickets and had accidents, but all within the normal range.
I was a distracted driver and I knew it. I would read billboards and store signs, switch CDs on the go, and eat while driving. Once I had a phone, I had a hard time putting it down. I would mean to pay attention to the read, would have every intention of doing so, but I’d forget. I couldn’t focus on just the one task.