I was born with a very serious problem. It’s difficult to talk about, but this condition afflicts thousands, maybe millions, of people across the country. There are no known cures, but there are treatment options. No, we’re not talking about HIV or Hepatitis C… we’re talking about the absolutely dreaded lead foot.
Last winter, my boyfriend’s truck coughed and wheezed through its final miles, until it finally decided to rest in peace and meet its maker. We decided to share my car for the time being, and we would save to get another little beep-beep on the road in the next year or so.
Fast forward to the end of the winter. My boyfriend was driving my “beast”, as I liked to refer to my car, on the way home from a long work day. We were waiting at a stop sign, attempting to turn left on to an extremely busy main street in a congested area. Unfortunately, we had to take this turn every day to get home and it was always death-defying. Both sides of the main traffic began to slow down and flash us with their high beams to take the turn.
Then it happened.
I don’t remember the actual impact. I remember having a calm silence settle over the car, and as if in slow motion and fast forward all at the same time, it felt as though a train was driving through the side of my car. I will never forget the feeling of my car being airborne and slamming back to the ground in a horrifying screech. It turned out that an impatient driver peeled around the front car that flashed us and drove into the side of my car going 50 miles per hour, which was 20 miles over the speed limit.
The details after the accident are a hazy mess. My boyfriend’s glasses on the floor. Trying to start the car, not knowing that it was totaled and the tire rod was shattered. The EMT running to my window asking me endless questions, trying to get me out of the car. Crying on the side of the road while looking at the debris. Thanking God that we were somehow alive.
The other driver had hit us so hard she embedded her license plate in my car. I remember a firefighter coming to my side, asking me if I knew how lucky I was that our car didn’t flip over. The entire experience was nerve-rattling, to say the least.
And so began my treatment option for lead foot.
It’s not as though the accident was our fault. And we were only driving 10 miles per hour, turning off a side street… so it wasn’t the speed. It’s just that the entire experience made me realize how fragile we all are, and how dangerous driving really is. You’re powering a metal machine that is thousands of pounds around human lives. Sit with that for a moment and I am sure you too will find yourself re-thinking some of your own driving skills.
Since the accident, I can proudly say that I have not driven above the speed limit, or recklessly, in any way. I retired my days of fast and furious style driving for the slow lane and getting honked at every few minutes. I don’t slam on the accelerator as soon as the light turns green; I always do a quick safety check for both sides of the street before driving into the intersection. I’m a good little doobie when it comes to driving now.
As a retired speed demon, I have to say that seeing the road from the other side is quite eye-opening. It’s amazing, and shocking, how people actually drive. And most of the time, they are so damn proud of their reckless, life-endangering moves!
With all that said, I’m going to share a few driving tips with you all, for safety (and common sense’s) sake.
1. You can only drive as fast as the car in front of you. You can choose to tailgate that person the entire time you’re behind them, but all that does is create a stressful drive for you. (Plus, that’s pretty much an a-hole move.)
2. When you are entering a highway, you have to yield. Flooring the gas pedal and driving like a bat out of hell to cut off the traffic already on the highway is a quick way to end up in the morgue.
3. When there are two left turning lanes, you have to stay in your own damn lane. I know the idea of having the car next to you get ahead of you is life-ruining, but swerving into their lane and almost hitting them to get in front is a big no-no.
4. Put your dang phone down! No one is super human enough to look at a phone screen and text, while also keeping a safe eye on the road. I know you’re pretty much Tom Brady in your popularity status, but you can wait to text at a stop light.
5. If you are driving behind a person in the slow lane on the highway, do not flash your lights, beep your horn, and flip them off because they’re doing the speed limit. All you’re going to do is create a good laugh for the driver. If only you knew how foolish you look!
6. One car length = nothing. If you are one of the people who will slam down on your gas and wildly swerve around the car in front of you to gain one car length… please enlighten me: why? One car length… death… one car length… death. Seems like a pretty simple mathematical equation to me.
7. Think about your gas mileage. ‘Nuff said.