May 20, 3:15 PM -- I approach the entrance ramp onto the free-way, the same one I take everyday, day in day out, driving home from work. As I do, the light switches from yellow to red; I hit the brakes trying to decide my next move. As I do, I am propelled forward from behind and a loud crash rings in my ears. My car rolls forward almost onto the freeway. I look in the mirror and see the culprit at a standstill, the front of his car smashed in and smoking. I immediately start shaking; I check my body for cuts, scratches. I don't know what to do. I frantically search through my glovebox for an insurance card. I call my husband. He's at work, and the phone goes to voicemail. I look in my rearview mirror again, worried for the other driver, who has gotten out of his car and is pacing like a madman beside the freeway, I decide I should probably call 911.
Once they answer, I break down into tears. I can barely explain what happened, but somehow I get out my location, and that I have been in a car accident. It feels like an eternity before the police and first responders arrive. In that amount of time, I have talked to the other driver, found my insurance card, and called my dad. I am still shaken up, but I am now calm enough to speak coherently.
The first responder finds my work badge outside my car, probably cast aside in my dazed state. He pulls off the rest of my bumper which peels off like a band-aid and sticks it in the back of my car. I continue to wait for the police officer to talk to the other driver. I have been beside the freeway now for about one hour. A tow truck arrives for the other vehicle, and although the man is worst off than I am, he declines an ambulance.
I shakily drive home. Once home, I look at the damage to my car. When I see the smashed in Rav4, my heart sinks, and I am filled with despair. "What is this going to cost? What will I drive while my vehicle gets repaired? How could such a normal drive home turn into this? Why did I worry about following those damn traffic lights?" And I blame myself; how could I not? "Sure, the other driver may have been texting and driving, but why did I pay such attention to lights that other drivers avoid?" These thoughts play back and forth in my mind as I relive the crash.
It has been about 2 months now since my crash. Each day that passes since, I feel like I regain a little measure of confidence on the road. But today, I was on the road and had to hit my brakes on the freeway. The car behind me was too close, and the driver also slammed on her brakes so loud that I could hear the screeching behind me. A near accident avoided. But as my heart started to race, and the memories from May 20th filled my mind, I realized that a car crash is not something you go through once; it resurfaces whenever you have to make a split moment decision on the road.
Have you ever been in a car crash before? Do you feel like it is a right of passage, something that nearly everyone experiences in his or her life?