Commentary

March 14, 2014

Distracted driving: ‘I never thought it could happen to me’

Tags:
Senior Airman Alexis Siekert
52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The wreckage of one Airman’s vehicle rests on the access road near the Spangdahlem Main Gate, Germany, after a distracted driving accident Feb. 19. Military leadership service-wide, including Fort Huachuca, is working to eliminate the large number of distracted driving incidents.

We’ve all read the statistics and heard the slogan, “Distracted driving is deadly driving,” on the American Forces Network.

But be honest, are you always as attentive as you should be?

I’ll admit it here, now, that I’m not.

Yes, I’ve taken my eyes off the road to change the radio station, check my hair in the mirror or rummage around my purse for my lip balm. And one of those same everyday actions in the wrong moment changed my perspective on how I operate my vehicle.

On this particular morning, it all started with the simple act of locating my identification card.

Twenty seconds later, my car was on an entirely different road after flipping twice over a barrier.

The fact that I can type these words now is a miracle that is not lost on me. My car was totaled. The caved – in roof was only part of the damage, yet I was able to walk away.

On the morning of my crash, I had plenty of time to get to work. I wasn’t speeding, and my mind wasn’t on anything other than the drive. As I got closer to the gate, I grabbed my wallet out of my pocket to get my ID. In the moment it took me to look down to make sure I had the right card, I veered off the road.

My tires screeched as I slammed on the breaks trying to correct my direction. I was traveling more than 40 mph when I narrowly missed oncoming traffic, took out a deer-crossing sign and two road markers before falling into the ditch. I don’t remember the first turn, but I knew I was upside down the second time when I could feel my weight being fully supported by my seatbelt. You could hear the shattering of my windows and metal on concrete just before I finally came to a stop.

I was very fortunate to walk away without a scratch, bump or bruise. I attribute most of this to German engineering, my seatbelt and a lot of luck. But I’m very aware that those three factors didn’t cancel out the fact that what I did was wrong. I could have killed myself or someone else.

Now a week later, I am still trying to wrap my head around those few seconds before the crash. But beyond the shattered glass and the sirens of the police and ambulatory services, I knew I had to change the way I measured risks because I can’t count on being this lucky a second time.

I owed it to myself after the crash to write this story — not as a public affairs Airman merely meeting a weekly quota or as a recent survivor of an accident such as this doing community service awareness — but as a simple word of advice to my fellow [service members].

This isn’t a preachy “Don’t do this” message — just a hope that no one reading this ever has to go through what I went through.
So, to help arm as many people as I can with a few tips so they don’t repeat my mistake, here is a list of suggestions to make your car ride a safer experience.

Have your needed ID card or relevant papers out of your pocket and easily accessible before starting your vehicle. I’ve seen people struggle to fish out items from their back pocket while still operating a vehicle at top speeds. Some may even have to unbuckle their seatbelt to get something, whereas mine saved my life.

Have a passenger change the radio or get the IDs from other passengers in the car. In my car, the guy riding shotgun is the navigator and copilot who deals with the GPS and changes the songs — so long as they agree to the stations I want to listen to.

I may not have been on the phone, but I think of how it only took one second of my eyes off the road to cause all this damage; accepting a phone call or reading a text could be just as dangerous.

If you forgot to do all of these things, at least wait until you are stopped before performing anything distracting. If you do get an important phone call or have to find something, just pull over.

Whatever it is, it is not worth your life. These tips seem very basic, but still I took a risk in skipping one or two, and part of my morning routine included a visit to a hospital.

Perhaps you’re like me and hadn’t fully thought about these potential risks, but I hope none of you repeat my mistake.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Gabrielle Kuholski

Antiterrorism Exercise assesses installation readiness, reinforces important relationships

Gabrielle Kuholski First responders with the Fort Huachuca and Whetstone Fire Departments work together to get a wounded Soldier into an ambulance during the full scale exercise, Apache Warrior 2013, Tuesday. These first respon...
 
 

Labor Day Safety Message

Labor Day marks the traditional end of the summer season and celebrates the American worker and the contributions they make to our great country. I want to commend you on your efforts to control heat injuries through another hot summer. Your diligence and care for teammates contributed to an overall 20-percent decrease in accident fatalities...
 
 
Gabrielle Kuholski

VA clinical psychologist raises military sexual trauma awareness

Gabrielle Kuholski Michael Moore, Ph.D., military sexual trauma coordinator at the Southern Arizona Veterans Affairs Health Care System in Tucson, presents a session on military sexual trauma, or MST, in the Murr Community Cent...
 

 

Glass recycling now available in Sierra Vista

SIERRA VISTA – Clean glass bottles and jars can be dropped off for recycling at the new Sierra Vista Glass Recycling Depot as part of the city’s trial glass recycling project. The Glass Recycling Depot, located in the parking lot of the Pedro Castro Government Maintenance Center, is a glass collection point that is separate...
 
 
Maranda Flynn

FH Community Spouses’ Club accepting new members, shares plans for coming year

Maranda Flynn Fort Huachuca Community Spouses’ Club board members, Katrina LaDue and Lesley Hocker, (left foreground and background), assist new club members, Dana Edwards and Sandi Weishaupt, (right foreground and background...
 
 

Retiree Council shares news, notes Did you forget to care for your Family?

No one forgets to care for his or her Family on purpose. It just happens – more often than one might think when it comes to the military Survivor Benefit Plan, or SBP. Most often, retired Soldiers don’t know the federal law and the time limits it imposes on maintaining their SBP elections. If a...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin