In a way, it was a very surreal experience for me. I was coming home from work late at night and I was sitting in my car at a stoplight. I was kind of staring off into space, looking at a billboard. The first thing I noticed was that I had a broken fingernail and I couldn’t figure out why. After a few seconds of puzzlement, I turned around and noticed that there was someone’s car sitting pretty much in the trunk of my car.
He was out driving with his whole family in the car – his wife, his mother-in-law, and I think one or two of his children. The police estimate he was going 50 mph and I was at a dead stop, so you can imagine the impact. It threw me into the Toyota truck in front of me, which gave me both a front and back impact.
Fortunately, I didn’t have a passenger, because they would have been more seriously hurt than I was. He hit me on the back passenger side, so the whole passenger compartment was crumpled and full of glass.
I ended up with a severe whiplash injury with nerve damage running down both shoulders and arms. I had to drop out of school and quit my job because I couldn’t sit for long periods of time and it took me several months to save up enough money to replace my car. The nerve damage got so bad, I couldn’t drive my car because I couldn’t grip my fingers around the steering wheel or gear shift lever. I couldn’t squeeze the toothpaste, so I would have to set it on the counter and push down on it with my arm.
I had to have about six months of treatments and physical therapy including hot sand collars, traction treatments, massage therapy (not as pleasant as it sounds), chiropractors, and electrical current therapy. Even 30 years later, the slightest twist or bump can mess up my neck or back for days.
It makes me so furious that my life was so impacted due to someone else’s stupidity. While I acknowledge that my injuries could have been much worse, the fact that I had to go through all this just because some guy decided to get drunk and take his whole family joyriding really boggles my mind.
I have seen other drunk driving incidents and to me, it is just unforgivable. I think just the act of getting behind the wheel of a car after you’ve been driving, is a form of attempted murder. If you don’t manage to kill or injure someone, it’s really just a matter of luck. It just means that someone didn’t happen to get into your path that night. Even if I were willing to take that chance with MY life, it certainly isn’t a decision I’m willing to make for someone else’s life.
There are so many other choices you could make. If you are at someone’s house, you could ask to stay over. You could space your drinks and plan your food consumption intelligently so you aren’t impaired. Or there are many places that offer free taxi service to potential drunk drivers. Yes, it would be embarrassing to do, but it’s worth swallowing your pride to not risk someone’s life.
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