If you’ve ever been in a serious car accident, you know how fast (and yet, also how slow) everything moves. Sometimes you see the car coming at you, sometimes you just feel and hear that crunching impact and all you can think is “What is happening?” in a sort of slow motion thought.
When I was pregnant with our youngest, we were hit from behind by a guy who was looking down at his phone, looking at a work order from his boss. He was going about 70 MPH, and hadn’t seen that traffic had slowed to around 40 and his large pickup truck slammed into our minivan, where our 2 year-old was buckled into the middle row of seats in his car seat.
My husband saw the truck coming in the last fraction of a second and braced himself, I had no idea and was tossed forward. Our son instantly started screaming, and I watched as the impact turned us sideways. As we were turned, facing the traffic coming at us, I saw a giant oil tanker truck coming straight at us. I had enough time to think, “This is how we all die” before the driver, who is my hero, managed an evasive maneuver and swung a good 10 feet to the side of us, the wind from his passing mass shaking our car.
The man driving the pickup sprinted from his truck as my husband came out of the car about to swing on him. I yelled for him to get our son instead, who was screaming. I felt contractions in my belly and wandered out of the van a bit confused, holding my pregnant stomach. When the driver of the pickup saw me, and our little boy, he went white and seemed to get dizzy. He said he was sorry a thousand times. My husband couldn’t look at him, he just held our son.
We ended up being transported to the hospital on those back boards, our necks in braces. Our son was crying hysterically – turned out he had a broken collar bone from his seatbelt straps being tightened unevenly, not to mention had to watch his parents being put into an ambulance strapped down – but calmed down when he realized he was riding in an ambulance (he loved trucks and gadgets then) and on the lap of a heroic firefighter who was apparently also an expert at calming little kids. Fortunately, we were all pretty much fine.
But I will never forget the sight of that tanker coming straight at us, the thought of not being able to do anything. Not even enough time to really be afraid. When I look at photos taken of the car, I’m amazed we were okay. The minivan was totaled, and the back of the car had been pushed all the way into the middle seats. As in, had someone been in the third row they would have been crushed.
It’s important everyone understands what can happen when you look down for a moment. This ad shows the girl looking down at just the time she should’ve noticed a stop sign. That’s how it happens. Any of us who’ve been in accidents know this. You think you can plan, make a different decision, but most of the time you can’t.