Have you ever been a victim of a vehicle accident? How did you feel during and after the accident? Terrified during those few seconds and grateful to be alive afterwards right? I bet I’m right! Remember the myriad emotions that flashed through your mind while the accident was occurring? Thoughts of loved ones, thoughts of unrealized dreams and thoughts of unfinished projects right? After such a traumatic experience, we tend to recalibrate and adjust our caution levels e.g. by reducing the frequency of travel or by traveling only via trusted drivers and or trusted transport companies. Whatever the case may be, we up our caution levels to avoid repeat experiences.
That being said, have you ever been the driver of a car involved in a vehicle accident? If yes, can you remember how you felt during and after? It’s an experience one never really forgets. I had such an experience in the year 2004 and the memories are still very fresh till the present day. It was a very traumatic day for me but thank God for my dad, who taught me how to drive. He had also taught me how not to give in to nerves if the unexpected happened but that’s a story for another day. I was turning off the main road into a street on the left and my left trafficator was on long before I made the turn. I had seen a bike speeding down behind me but I knew he could either slow down till I turned fully or simply pass on by on the right. Alas! He did neither! He simply kept on speeding towards me and ran straight into my car (my Mum’s car actually).
The bike hit the door on the driver’s side so badly that it caved in and could not be opened. Of course the window shattered as well and I give God thanks that none of the shards found their way into my eyes. The bike rider was badly injured and bleeding profusely from both his right arm and his right leg. I remember saying a very brief but heartfelt prayer of thanks that there were several witnesses who could testify that I did nothing wrong. With my father’s voice reverberating in my head, I refused all offers for my car to be driven and drove the injured man to the hospital myself. I was trembling but I held on to my composure at least until the man had been sorted out and I was back home. Only then did I let loose the floodgates of tears, yeah, I wept my heart out!
For weeks I was too scared to drive. The fear was utterly debilitating! Do check out my amateur poem titled “Fear of the Unknown” [here] it captures some of the kind of terror I felt back then. It was as though I was sick! In a way, yes…I was temporarily mentally ill! I kept remembering the moment of that horrible impact and the terrible sound that accompanied it in full blown technicolor! Every sudden loud sound caused me to jump nervously and it was a very unpleasant time in my life. The memories of the time and money spent at the mechanics’ workshop grated on my last nerves too. The fact that the accident wasn’t my fault did not help matters at all. In fact it complicated matters for me. When the bike man was questioned by passersby, he said he didn’t slow down because he didn’t see me put out my hand and wave him down! Imagine that level of driving illiteracy?! My trafficator was on but he didn’t understand it! Incredible right?
After several weeks of avoiding the the car like a plague, I got over the trauma by sheer force of will. I had to tell myself that life had to go on regardless. I couldn’t stay so fearful forever. Eventually I went back to driving but as a totally different, very careful person. Looking on the bright side of it all, the accident actually made me become a better driver. No matter the speed, I have learnt to be in absolute control of all my senses when driving, to maintain a firm grip on the car by holding the steering in both hands (no forming or feeling very cool and driving with one hand, lol), to avoid distractions especially from phones (this is often a tough call and I’m sure drivers reading this understand what I mean) and watching out for the other drivers on the road who might not be as in control as I am. I can proudly say that I have not had any other accident since that one.
For those of you who are Ibadan based and are yet to know how to drive, I hope I haven’t scared you off with this narrative. I really hope you latch on to the learning points of my experience and I encourage you to learn to drive as soon as you can. Below is an advert for my husband’s driving school, please feel free to contact us for lessons at a very affordable fee.
Cheers and thanks for reading!!