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Just my Luck

Just my Luck

JAMES RYAN JARRELL
Media and Force Development Division Student Intern
U.S. Air Force Safety Center
Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico

When I opened my eyes, I was staring at a spiral-shaped crack in my windshield roughly the size of my forehead, a large chunk of my hair dangling from the center. Suddenly, my attention was drawn to my mangled ankle. My only distraction from the pain was wiping the blood from my forehead so it wouldn’t run into my eyes. I had no idea what caused the crash. Everything happened so fast.

It had been a normal day, and I was driving home from the local university after sitting through hours of lectures. Before I knew it, I was slamming on my brakes, trying to slow down and not plow into the car in front of me. Unfortunately, I didn’t stop quickly enough.

According to witnesses and the police report, a group of vehicles was traveling north through an intersection that was well known for accidents. The intersection was quite strange in design, with three two-way streets that intersect. I was traveling through a curving turn heading north when the wreck started. The driver in first car in the line of traffic reported he was cut off by another vehicle that shifted to the middle of the intersection. The first driver slammed on his brakes and was rear-ended by a second car. I followed by smashing into the second car. The accident ended with the vehicle behind me lightly hitting the rear of my car.

Some might say this crash was bad luck — that I was at the wrong place at the wrong time. But as the Roman philosopher Seneca said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” I believe the inverse is just as true. Bad luck is caused when a challenge or danger presents itself and we’re not properly prepared to handle it.

From my description of the accident, you’d think I’d been texting or talking on the cellphone, but I wasn’t. However, I probably could’ve avoided this entire experience if I had practiced the simple rules we were taught in driver’s school. All I had to do was be more attentive. I could’ve saved myself from all of the things I now had to handle, including a $20,000 hospital bill.

I learned a great lesson from this wreck. Looking back, I had been driving way too casually. That great amount of comfort I felt while driving was actually laziness. I stopped thinking of the risk prevention techniques I had been taught and fell into a driving habit that caused me to be less active in searching for the potential dangers around me. In retrospect, I’m lucky I wasn’t more seriously injured. If I hadn’t been wearing my seat belt, I could’ve smashed through the car’s windshield.

Driving a vehicle is very dangerous. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 32,675 people were killed on U.S. roadways in 2014. During that same time period, another 2.3 million people were injured in crashes. When you stop to consider that you’re piloting 2 tons of metal at high velocity, you’ll realize driving is a task that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Stay alert when you’re behind the wheel. Don’t become a statistic due to complacent driving.

  • 1 February 2016
  • Author: Army Safety
  • Number of views: 1211
  • Comments: 0
Categories: Off-DutyPMV-4
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