CHIEF WARRANT OFFICER 2 TRAVIS BOYER
1st Battalion, 211th Aviation Regiment
Utah Army National Guard
West Jordan, Utah
It was a rainy morning in Enterprise, Alabama, and I was driving my Subaru Impreza home from a canceled physical training session on Fort Rucker. The sky was just barely starting to lighten up and my eyes were having trouble adjusting to the transition from night to day. I was angry I’d wasted my time driving onto post and was speeding to get home. All of those things combined distracted me from focusing on the most important task — driving.
About 25 meters ahead, I saw a deer in the road. I had just taken my foot off the accelerator when my windshield suddenly went dark and I heard a loud smack. While I was focused on the deer ahead, another deer I hadn’t seen had attempted to jump over my car. It didn’t make it.
My windshield shattered and sent pieces of glass flying into the car. Luckily, I was wearing my glasses, which kept glass from getting into my eyes. I did, however, suffer some cuts on my face. The deer rolled along the top of my car and caused some minor body damage. Fortunately, this happened just a couple miles from my house. Since I wasn’t seriously injured, I continued home so I could clean up and find a place to get my windshield replaced.
Looking back, I’ve been able to identify several factors that led to this accident. First, there was supposed to be a notification system in place to let Soldiers know when PT was canceled. The system failed that morning, which caused me to drive onto post in poor weather conditions. Second, I was stewing because I hadn’t been notified about the cancellation, which resulted in me not paying attention to driving. It is never a good idea to drive while distracted or upset, especially in inclement weather. Finally, I was driving 10 mph over the speed limit. Speeding is always an unnecessary risk. The fact that it was raining heavily should have made me slow down to below the posted limit.
I did do a few things right, though. First, I was wearing my seat belt. Had I lost control of my car and crashed, my seat belt would have given me a better chance of surviving. Second, when I noticed the first deer in the road, I slowed down my car in hopes of avoiding an accident. It was just bad luck that a second deer happened to dart in front of me. I was fortunate that there wasn’t any other traffic on the road and I didn’t overreact upon impact. I calmly came to a stop, made sure I was all right, got out of the car to ensure it was drivable and then proceeded home.
Driving is a huge responsibility that most of us take for granted. The actions we make while operating a vehicle can directly impact our lives as well as the lives of those who share the roads with us. When we don’t understand the risks associated with driving, lives can be changed in an instant. Drive safely.