Many of you are aware that last July I was involved in an auto collision in which I received whiplash. I have been given an opportunity by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and Auto Alliance to tell my story and why I believe this crash was a result of distracted driving.
Last July I was sitting at a red light at a busy intersection. I was in the middle lane with only one car in front of me. Each lane on either side of me was full of cars, as well as the line behind me. When the light turned green the car in front of me didn’t move. I sat for several seconds trying to decide when I should blow the horn to give her a “gentle” nudge. Both lanes of traffic on either side of me were already in motion. Just as she was finally beginning to move forward, BAM! I was hit in the rear of my SUV. My body moved forward and back quickly, and I realized I had both hands cradling my head. When I called 911 to report the collision I turned down the offer of the ambulance because I didn’t feel any pain at the time and the driver that hit me was not injured either. However, a couple of days later, my shoulders muscles felt as if they were being “stretched” and I had a continual ache in the back of my neck and shoulders. A trip to the doctor verified I had whiplash. I was told that a bump at as little as 5mph could cause whiplash. I had 7 months of regular treatments at the doctor’s office as well as at-home treatments. 5 days a week I had to put my head and neck into a Neck Pump for 15 minutes to help “recurve” my neck. I also had a series of shoulder and neck exercises I had to perform daily.
It’s amazing at how whiplash can cause fatigue, eye strain and muscle soreness. I was unable to perform many exercises, run or jump on the trampoline with my nephew. I also had to buy a contour pillow to sleep on. This 5 second injury affected my daily life for months – I still have to use the neck pump several times a month. Therefore in my opinion, distracted driving is a health and/or life and death risk.
Now, here’s the thing. Had she been paying attention to driving like she was supposed to be doing, she would not have moved. However, she was distracted by something (not someone as there was no one with her) and when she saw the traffic beside her move she immediately took off without looking to see that I was still sitting there. Had she looked up before accelerating, she would have seen my brake lights and the crash could have been prevented.
After this injury I have become acutely aware of traffic around me and what drivers are doing. And to be honest, it sometimes makes me furious! Last week I noticed the vehicle beside me crossing over into my lane several times. She had no blinker on as if she wanted into my lane, so I became a little nervous and backed off from her. As she pulled ahead of me, still in her lane, I could see her through her rear window. She had her phone directly in front of her face, texting. I find this activity very irresponsible. Not only is it illegal, it is life-threatening. All it takes is five seconds to change someone’s life. Collisions change not only the life of the driver but the lives of the families of everyone involved. If you are texting and driving, you are endangering the lives of everyone around you and I find that very selfish.
So do everyone a favor. Be responsible. Pay attention to the road and cars around you. Leave the cell phone off. And make the roads safer for everyone.
Be healthy. Be kind. Be Responsible.
The Auto Alliance and American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons are also holding a “Decide to Drive” Catchphrase Contest.
What kind of poster would you design to help combat distracted driving? Could you write a slogan you would want drivers to remember? Check the calendar for upcoming activities and submit your ideas to join the distracted driving conversation.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.