by Beth Diane Bradley
I was tired, distracted, and in a hurry … I got in the car, backed up too quickly and … crunch. I’m no good in reverse, which is evident every time I back out of my long, skinny drive way. That sinking feeling you get when you hear that crunch is never fun. But eventually I quit feeling sorry for myself and was just grateful no one was hurt, the car was still drivable, and other than having to eat the $500 deductible, it really wasn’t so bad. After all, I’m sure the insurance company needed the money way more than I did.
When it was time to get my car fixed, the rental I was given had a backup camera. I was impressed by the yellow outline that shows you where you will end up, if you follow your chosen course – however, it did remind me of the yellow tape drawn around the body at a crime scene. So I was nervous at first, like maybe it would be safer if I could figure out how to drive outside the lines.
A few years ago, I got into an accident I didn’t cause. I was sitting at a railroad crossing, shortly after the cross arm dropped. A large pickup was behind my Toyota, and the driver must have assumed I was going to try and beat the train. He pushed me through the cross arm, onto the tracks, while the train was heading toward me. Thankfully, I backed up like a pro that time, and lived to tell about it.
Most seasoned drivers enjoy sharing their minor accident stories, many of which are native to our northern climate – like the fender bender on ice, which if caught in time, can be dismissed, if your car is old enough to wear the damage with pride — or the ditch dive, which is often done without a partner. Then there’s always the hunting trip without a license — which at least includes dinner. But if we go too long without a weather-related collision, we can usually be heard boasting about our finely honed winter driving skills, while watching the national news.
Many things about driving have changed over the years. People my age like to reminisce about our childhood road trips when we were allowed to roll around in the back of the woody station wagon at speeds that were eventually deemed unsafe. When I was in junior high, I remember trying to get my parents to wear seat belts. And by the time I had kids, infant and child car seats had become the norm.
But getting your first driver’s license has always been a rite of passage in our driving-obsessed culture, not to mention buying your first car. Unfortunately, the first accident often happens soon after that. Mine was just like the one I had last month –I was backing out a driveway. I guess some of us just never learn.