A “Reverse” Lesson in Distracted Driving

“What’d you do?!” The famous line Tommy exclaims when Richard opens the car door and it falls to the ground.  If you’ve never seen the movie Tommy Boy, just moments before the line is delivered, Tommy accidentally reverses the car while the door is wide open. The door smashes into a post and swings backward, ultimately breaking the door off its hinges. He quickly puts it back in place before Richard returns to the car, hoping he doesn’t get blamed for the broken door. Now imagine that same thing happening in your garage while you’re running late for work on a day when you have a million things to do.

While the door did not fall off my car completely, the movie failed to portray three things: the most horrifying noise imaginable, the emotional meltdown that quickly follows and, most importantly, that distracted driving is completely preventable! When people think of distracted driving, they typically think of speeding down the highway while texting. Well, I can tell you that distracted driving encompasses a multitude of scenarios behind the wheel: eating, talking, singing along with the radio, fighting a drowsy spell, and the invisible monster we all battle daily – stress. The number of things I had on my mind that morning completely distracted me from the simple task at hand, which was getting to work safely.

I was extremely fortunate the only damage was to my car, and maybe a little to the garage wall. You see, I was actually outside of my car when it started backing out of the garage. I’d sat down in the driver’s seat, prepared to leave but as I pulled the door closed, it got caught on an open case of Gatorade and sent the bottles tumbling. Naturally, my first instinct was to pick up the bottles so I didn’t run them over, so I got out and began reaching for the bottles beneath my car. Apparently I’d started my car and put it in gear but my mind was so far away, I hadn’t even realized it! The open car door caught a support beam on the garage wall; the noise of my door bending backward is what finally caught my attention. I then realized my car was backing out of the garage…without me in it. I was trapped between the moving car and the garage walls! I reacted quickly enough to get my car stopped but I’m very lucky I didn’t get pulled under the tires or crushed between the wall and the car. I could have been very seriously injured…or worse. I walked away with a bump on my forehead and some bruises on my leg, as well as a few important lessons learned.

The next time you get behind the wheel, pause for a moment and take a deep breath before you put your car in gear. That extra second or two may just help keep you safe – and possibly save you thousands of dollars! The other really important lesson I learned? I wish I’d had an independent agent to call, somebody who could have helped me through the process of filing a claim, setting up an inspection, and scheduling the auto body work. It was a bit overwhelming and having an expert’s help in the matter would have made that horrible day a little more manageable.

So my advice? Stop. Breathe. And drive safe!

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