This article was really difficult to write, but I’m glad I did. The whole thing was a learning experience and I’m glad it’s over. The article was published in my high school newspaper.
I would tell you that the screeching of tires terrified me. I would tell you that I will remember forever the sound of my car hood crunching. I would tell you that I felt the whiplash through my entire body as my car slammed into the back bumper of the car in front of me.
Actually, I remember almost nothing.
I remember the adrenaline rush and being in shock, I remember hurriedly jamming down the brake pedal and not forgetting to push the clutch in. Mostly, I remember the aftermath, when I got out of my car in a daze and tried to assess the damage done. I wasn’t knocked out, of course–just in shock.
Insurance cards specifically warn against making any statements about who was at fault, so I won’t. I know I was obeying all the rules – wearing a seatbelt, going the speed limit, not multi-tasking – I wasn’t even changing the radio station or shifting. But when I hit black ice going into a right turn lane, I hadn’t started slowing down yet, and of course, my brakes were useless against the power of the frozen roadway.
The truck in front of my fishtailed precariously, but was traveling much more slowly than I was. At later estimation, I’d say I probably hit the truck while going about 25 mph.
I was able to drive my beloved vehicle to school after I and the other driver had discussed the accident. There was bright yellow-green coolant on the road, so I had to watch my engine temperature guage, but all was well. I wouldn’t pop the hood to look at the engine, but the car was running, so I assumed all was fine. I wouldn’t know what to look for or listen for anyway.
Obviously, I was late to school, but the secretary, vice principal, and principal all seemed to know what had happened anyway. I’m sure I was shaking as I took my excused tardy slip, but I wasn’t pessimistic.
I would replace the coolant easily. And the engine still ran, so that didn’t seem to be a problem. I might even be able to live with the hood a little beat up. The grille was shattered, but who needs a grille? And I was still alive…
The final word would come when I took my car to the nearest Subaru dealer to get an assessment and estimate of costs. I was still able to drive the car, albeit at 45 mph on the freeway.
I waited for what seemed like hours while the guy at the body show added up uminaginable parts and labor costs. I tried to imagine the worst. $1500? $2000? Even at $1500, my car would be totaled and I wouldn’t know what in the world to do.
Finally, he hesitantly but factually told us that my car was indeed totaled; the damages would be at least $3300 to fix. There was a little consolation in his voice as he continued with the actual parts he would need to replace, but the terms fell on deaf ears.
To give some background, I was and still am in love with my car. It was the cute white Subaru with all the bumperstickers. If you ever looked in it, you’d see it was a complete mess (I was getting to that, I swear…) but even all the articles of junk reflected every aspect of me. Every time I got in, I loved my car a little more. It was a dream to drive (not that I’ve experienced driving many cars). I was used to the manual transmission and the car’s certain drawbacks, like the defective air conditioner, slow heater, and scratchy sound system.
Believing that I had ruined my favorite car (ok… my only car) forever, I cried for the rest of the afternoon. I cursed the ice and the chance that I just might have been following a little too closely.
Three weeks later, my neck has stopped hurting and I’ve found a body shop where my car would be fixed for $2000. The insurance company is reimbursing me with $1100, which is about what the car is worth, and I’ll scrounge up the rest.
I won’t get through this article without homage to KerriAnn Wright, who was less fortunate in her car accident. I know I’m extremely lucky, and if I had to have this kind of learning experience, I’m just glad that it happened the way it did – no one was hurt, and I’m actually going to get my car back.
KerriAnn’s crash was a wake-up call to all of us in some way, and some of us probably made resolutions to be attentive while driving and maybe even have perfect driving records. But sometimes circumstances like that cannot be controlled, even in one’s best efforts. I’m not saying that happened with me, but the fact remains true. Please drive carefully!
KerriAnn was a girl who was killed in a car accident in my class’ sophomore year. She was driving, and the crash killed both her and her father, and critically injured two of her brothers. She should have graduated with us this past May, and we all missed her.
My car was fixed for $2000, and the front looks absolutely brand new. I absolutely love that little ’93 Subaru Impreza hatchback. It gets an average of 30 to 31 mpg, and it’s just been perfect for me.
I will post pictures of the bumperstickers soon! : )