My First Car Accident

Car crashes: I’ve seen them all my life, on small roads and highways. Each is different but they always make me feel scared. When I was younger, my sister’s best friend’s mom got into a horrible accident that landed her in the hospital for several weeks, and since then I vowed I would never drive.

Fast forward to when I was 16 years old and I got my G1. I loved, and still love, to drive -- the feeling of being able to go anywhere, take people where they need to go, and just being independent. Later, I would keep advancing my driver’s licence, until getting my G, which I was so proud of. I was the only one in my family to pass all of the levels the first time, even if I was nervous or felt unprepared. I had always been a quicker driver. I pay attention to the speed limits but I like to go a little faster since I am a more rushed person by nature.

On December 13, 2018, I got into my first car accident. That day, I had gone to work and then to Starbucks to study for exams. By the time I left, it was around 7:08 p.m. and I felt accomplished with my work so I was going to go home, make some chicken fingers and watch One Tree Hill. I got out of the parking lot, was driving on a street and then the car in front of me jolted to a stop. Thankfully, I was not driving fast and was able to stop my car close to the car in front of mine without touching it.

Suddenly, I felt my car being pushed into the car in front of me. I drove a large van so the impact was the worst on my car. I hit the car in front of mine while being hit from the back too. The feeling was indescribable, but I remember looking into my back mirror and seeing the car behind me being smashed into mine. I immediately got out of my car to make sure everyone was okay and to look at the damage.

The accident happened in Brantford, and I knew I needed to call someone from my family immediately since I am not from Brantford, and I didn’t know what to do. Once I got out of the car the situation escalated. The car in front of mine had five people in it, including two small children. The kids were the first ones out of the car. They were crying and screaming because they did not understand what had just happened. The mother got out with two teenage girls and started screaming at everyone. The person behind me was probably two years older than me and had been driving with his girlfriend, leaving Brantford at the time of the accident. He was scared and barely spoke while his girlfriend tried to remain calm and help him.

I looked at the car behind me and it was clear that he had tried to swerve but did not have enough time and his right side had hit my left side. In the front, my hood was lifted, my licence plate was cracked in half, fluid was dripping onto the pavement. The car was obviously not driveable. Of course, the police were called, tow trucks were needed, and family members had to come to the scene.

The first person I called was my sister. I didn’t know how to process what had just happened and I could not call my parents hysterically because they wouldn’t have responded well. My sister ran out of her house, grabbed her husband and drove straight from Milton to Brantford. She was the one to inform my parents while I was talking to police officers and calling CAA. At first, I was in shock and I couldn’t process anything. All I knew was that I had been in an accident, everyone was physically safe, and I needed to handle this.

When my parents found out about the accident, they called me and I broke down and started bawling. I just wanted my mom and dad beside me, but I was alone while the other people involved had their families with them. I think that was the worst feeling of the whole night. After getting all of the official business done, all I had to do was wait for my sister to arrive. I tried to calm myself down. I didn’t want to be the pathetic teenage girl just crying on the side of the road, so I made myself stop crying temporarily, but when my sister got there it started all over again. She got me into their car where I started having multiple panic attacks (I also struggle with my mental health), and this is when she started to get frightened as well.

We drove to my house where my sister packed a bag for me and then we went back home to Mississauga, where I am from. In the car, I started falling asleep. I could feel my body shut down, but there was always the jolt of waking up and making sure it wasn’t all a dream. By the time I had gotten home to Mississauga, my car was waiting for me there. We had it towed to the house while we were going to figure out what was going to happen to it. I got out of the car in shock again, the van had been in my family since 2006. My dad drove it, then it was passed onto my sister, and eventually to me. We had even named the car, and while I know it may seem silly, I considered this car as a family member, and now it had been hurt.

I was scared to walk through the door because I didn’t want my parents to be mad. After all, I only had the car for a little while and it meant a lot to them too. As I walked inside, my dad was the first one to greet me with open arms and a huge hug. Once again, I started bawling and apologizing. Then came my mom, with the exact same sequence. Everyone told me that I had no need to apologize, it wasn’t my fault and, regardless of that, the most important thing was that everyone in every car was okay.

While I understood and was thankful, I was not okay emotionally and everyone knew it. The next month was horrible, I cried every day and I still had to call people and study for exams. I knew it hurt my parents because at that point no one could help me, and I knew I would have to tell my friends eventually since everyone knew I had a car. That was also another process itself, telling people, while not telling them too much or else another crying episode would ensue, and then having to reassure people I would be okay.

Since that night, I have gotten better. I can drive, I can be in the car. I don’t think about the accident every day or randomly start crying, but it’s still hard. I see a car accident and it hurts my heart a little differently – worse than before. I was tense driving a car for a while, and I was tense with everyone around me. I shut off. Even now, three months later, I still think about it, have dreams about it, and cry about it. It taught me a lot, from the official business that I needed to deal with like insurance claims, settlements, police records and doctor’s visits, but it also taught me a lot about myself; how I can grow, how I need to change my mindset and how I can help others in the same situation.

It was scary -- probably one of the most if not the scariest moments in my life. Sure, it happened a while ago, but I still think about it and about what could have been different that night. What if I left 10 minutes earlier? Later? What if I took another street home? What if everyone had time to brake? But the what-ifs start piling up pretty fast, and they are scary. Car accidents suck, life in general sucks sometimes, but seeing the personal growth is beautiful too.