Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Memory Month: My First Car Accident

Roy's recent car accident has led me down memory lane a bit - specifically to my first car accident, which was full of drama and intrigue. (Really, what else can you expect from the teenage me?)

It was March 1996, and I was 16 years old. I felt quite pathetic because I didn't have my driver's license yet (although I did have my learner's permit). My mom would sometimes let me take her car (a 1993 red Honda Civic - similar to the one pictured) on short drives to the store down the road, etc. One afternoon during Spring Break, I asked her if I could take her car to Country Express to get my new work schedule for the week. She said yes, and off I went. (Country Express was about 5 miles away from my house.)

After I'd gotten my schedule, I stopped at the store next door to Country Express and ran into Roger, a guy who lived in the area and was my on again-off again crush. We had never really dated before, but when he saw me at the store, he asked me if I wanted to go to the street dance downtown later that night. Of course, I said yes, and he said he would come by and pick me up. (A street dance is just what it sounds like, by the way, only the streets are actually closed off.)

And so I drove home. But I didn't take the direct route, which was the highway. Instead, I took back roads. I can't remember why I decided to take this route instead of the highway, but it was probably because I wanted to smoke a cigarette while driving so I could feel really cool. At any rate, at one point in the drive I took my eyes off the road for just a second, and all of a sudden, I was driving into the ditch on the left side of the road. I came really close to hitting a reflector, panicked, and overcorrected myself. I turned the wheel so hard that I ended up in the ditch on the right side of the road, and this time there was no saving me or the car.

I distinctly remember running into several fence posts, and then all of a sudden, the car was laying on its side (the driver's side, to be exact). To my credit, I didn't panic. It felt extremely odd to be sitting sideways instead of upright. I remember the radio was still playing, and the car was still running. There was some hissing noise going on, which of course made me think the car was going to explode any minute. Oddly enough, the thing I was most worried about was the fact that I had brought cigarettes into the car with me and couldn't find them. (I really didn't want to get busted.)

I probably sat there for about 30 seconds taking it all in. Then I just crawled out of the driver's side window, which was against the ground. A truck stopped to help me. The people in it had seen the accident happen, and they took me to the closest house so we could call 911. (This was before the age of cell phones taking over the world.) We drove back to the scene, and an ambulance showed up. I was mostly fine, except the airbag had hit me in the face. But I was taken to the emergency room. I can't remember if my mom rode with me or if she showed up later.

While I was laying there, waiting to be checked out, a cop showed up and wrote me out a ticket for "failure to control speed." I got a warning for driving without a license. My mom got a ticket for letting me drive without a license (which she later challenged, I think). When I was released, who else was waiting for me but Roger. Apparently, when I wasn't home when he showed to pick me up, he and my mom went looking for me and found the scene of the accident. He ended up giving us a ride home that night. He and I finally went out on our date, and we ended up dating until my first semester of college.

The car, of course, was totalled. Apparently I ran down 12(!) fenceposts. And my mom did find my cigarettes in the car. Doh!

Looking back on this experience, I have a few comments:

1) What kind of punk kid was I to think that I should smoke in my mom's smoke-free car?

2) I am really lucky that the couple who gave me a ride to the nearest house after the accident weren't serial killers.

3) Only a really skinny person could've gotten out of the car the way I did.

4) Speeding didn't cause my accident, so I don't know why I got a "failure to control speed" ticket. I should've gotten a "failure to keep eyes on road" ticket.

5) I now understand why my mom told me that I was harder to raise than my brother. I totalled her awesome car and probably made her insurance costs go through the roof. Not to mention the fact that I was smoking cigarettes at 16!

All I can say is I'm glad I've grown up.


WeezerMonkey said...


Claire said...

What a great story! I love that you ended up with the guy at the end... You punk kid you...

Kim Photography said...


Years ago, I got pulled over outside of Madison, Wisconsin for going 95 MPH on the highway, and the cop wrote me up for a $10 seatbelt ticket instead of a speeding ticket. I lucked out, just like you did for not getting hurt or in serious trouble after your accident. ;)

Discombobulated said...

ejole! I am glad you were not hurt!

amber said...

my first accident was crazy, but man, not that crazy ;)

Anonymous said...

That's crazy! I'm kinda glad I wasn't driving at 16, I probably would have gotten in a lot more trouble!


ssinca said...

h+p to you. ;)

Nanette said...

Oh, yikes!

Lesli said...

Ha ha! That was a funny story & memory, thanks for sharing! I can't really top it. When I was 14 or so I desperately wanted to drive at any opportunity and I remember one day I got in my dad's old red pickup & loaded up our 3 dogs in the back. They thought they were going for a ride, but as I recall I was just supposed to move the truck a few feet to a new location in the driveway. Think big farm driveway with enough room for tractors and 3 pickups--hee! Anyhow it was a stick shift which I had not quite mastered and I ended up putting it into reverse and slamming into the fence behind me. I think the dogs & I all had a cash of whiplash. The worst part was telling my parents. Oh, to be that young again--not!