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Time for a Change?

Time for a Change?

CHIEF WARRANT OFFICER 4 GREG M. KOYLE
65th FIRES Brigade
Utah Army National Guard
Bluffdale, Utah

It was a sunny weekday afternoon as we arrived at the hospital. My wife was pregnant with our second child, and I was ready to witness the miracle of a new baby boy. My son was born healthy and strong and came into this world on the ticket of trust that we, as his parents, would do our best to protect him until he is willing and able to go on his own. It started with car seats and child safety locks and then moved on to training wheels, bike helmets and knee pads. The next thing I knew, it was, “Dad, can I borrow the car?” It seemed like he went from infant to young man in such a short time.

As a father, there were many life lessons I wanted to pass along to my children. Little did I know that some lessons were already being taught — and not the way I’d intended. I learned that on a wet December evening, about 10 days before Christmas, when we received the phone call every parent dreads: “Mom and Dad, I’ve been in an accident.”

When I arrived at the scene, all I saw was red and blue lights and fire trucks. There was no sign of my boy. A police officer told me he had placed my son in the back of a squad car to keep warm because of the snow. When I got to him, it was so good to hug him and hear his voice. His truck was totaled in the accident, and I realized how lucky I was to find him unharmed. It could have been so much worse.

Witnesses told police that my son had run a red light and another driver making a left turned into him. He told me he was going almost 40 mph at the time of the accident. “Dad, the light changed from green to yellow and the roads were wet and I did not want to slide,” he said. “I knew that I could make the light.”

As I sat there and listened to him, surrounded by all of the commotion of first responders, it dawned on me where he got his aggressive driving habits. I’m ashamed to say he learned them from me. He spent years watching me drive too fast for the road conditions, slamming on the brakes because I was following too closely and weaving through traffic. He was watching when my speed would increase after passing a cop, joking about how lucky I was to have avoided a ticket. He heard me yell at other drivers when they cut me off. And I, too, always thought I could beat the light. Without realizing it, I had passed on my bad driving habits to my son.

My son’s accident served as a wakeup call for us both. We’ve since changed our driving habits. For me, I’d prefer to pass on lessons about how to be a safe, responsible driver. What about you? What lessons — knowingly or unknowingly — are you teaching your children? Is it time for a change?

  • 25 April 2021
  • Author: USACRC Editor
  • Number of views: 382
  • Comments: 0
Categories: Off-DutyPMV-4
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