A couple of months ago my husband and I sat at a red light on a street that we had driven dozens of times before. My husband has never been in accident, nor gotten a ticket. I completely trust him when he is driving. We were having a pleasant conversation about something frivolous when the predictability of the road changed.
It was an almost out of body experience to be sitting at that light like I had done so many times before. To be totally relaxed with my surroundings and looking forward to heading home. You never expect to be in completely ordinary circumstances when someone rear-ends you.
To be fair, as we sat at that red light my husband creped forward an inch in anticipation of the light turning green. However, no one expects the person behind them to hit the gas when the light is still red.
We pulled over to the side of the road to survey the damage and exchange information. The girl driver came to my husband’s window and said “I’m so sorry, I’ve never been in an accident before,” then (as an afterthought) she concluded, “I’m seventeen.” It was hard not to laugh in that moment because I really did feel sorry for the girl.
My husband got out of the van and I called highway patrol. The girl was driving a Jeep Cherokee and had completely smashed in our back-end so that it was no longer useable. It didn’t take long for the cops to arrive and settle the situation.
After three-thousand dollars and week in the auto body shop our van was fixed. Looking back, even though it seemed crazy at the time, I now realize I shouldn’t have been quite so shocked.
The road is an unpredictable place. You may follow the same driving routines again and again, but that doesn’t mean your circumstances are always going to be the same. You never know when something is going to hit you unexpectedly.
Driving shouldn’t be a complacent activity. Whenever we enter the driver’s seat we should be fully aware of our surroundings and prepared to take on what whatever circumstances the road may bring. The one thing you can count on, when it comes to driving, is change.
There will be sudden stops on the freeway. There will be construction when you are already running late. There will be that peaceful moment when you are sitting at a stop light without a care in the world where someone will hit you.
Be prepared for the uncommon and the surprising to happen on the road. Murphy’s law applies to driving as well, if something can go wrong it will. The best thing we can do as drivers is to be aware of surroundings and circumstances and to expect the unexpected.
Next time you hop in the driver’s seat, buckle up, put your hands at ten and two, and never forget how unpredictable the road can be.