When I first learned how to drive, I drove very cautiously. I drove nearly five hours in empty parking lots before I was ready to go on the open road (rather my mom made me go on the road). I always made sure I drove exactly the speed limit and completely stopped at all stop signs. I didn’t want to be a reckless driver and get in trouble with the law. As time went on, I became more comfortable with the road and I loosened my driving restrictions. I began to drive faster, around ten miles per hour over the speed limit and occasionally I didn’t completely stop at stop signs. After I had racked up fifty hours of driving, taken driver’s education, and had behind the wheel training with an instructor, I set out for my license. I obtained it on my first try, and I was proud of that. Most people I know took a few tries to pass the driver’s test. I was excited, but I didn’t have my own car. I knew I could only go out as often and my parents let me.
The first time I drove by myself was a big shock. There was no one there to tell me if I was driving too fast and to slow down. I was in charge of my driving; I was responsible for my actions. The first few times I was alone I tried to abide by the speed limit, but after a while I once again became comfortable with the road. I started to drive a little faster and more casually.
Then one night my friend invited me to his house to watch a movie. My parents agreed that I could drive over, since my friend only lived four minutes away. It was around 9:00 PM and it was dark out. I followed my normal procedure of pulling out of the driveway. I looked left, no one there. I looked right, no one there. I looked left again, no one there. I began my right turn out of the driveway, then out of the corner of my eye I saw two lights flying towards me coming over the hill.
I panicked; I didn’t know what to do. This nitwit was going around sixty miles per hour on my thirty-five mile per hour road. Should I stop? I was already more than half way in the road. Should I pull out really fast and hope he can slow down in time? I made neither of these choices; I reverted to my old ways. As I said a prayer, I nonchalantly pulled out of the driveway at a safe speed and slowly accelerated towards the thirty-five mile per hour speed limit. I heard the speeding car blare its horn as it approached me. I continued on my leisurely pace. I thought, “As long as I’m following the law, I’ll be fine. I don’t need to speed up.” Almost as quickly as I heard the horn yelling behind me, I saw a streak of lights to my left. The driver had turned into the oncoming lane to pass me. The car quickly peeled away from me. The sound of the horn and the lights faded away and the car was out of sight within ten seconds. I meanwhile, was still going the speed limit all the way down the road to my friend’s house.
It didn’t quite hit me until after I got out of the car, but I could have been killed right then! I actually wasn’t really sure if I was still alive. I replayed the moment in my head numerous times while I was at my friend’s house. I couldn’t really concentrate on the movie. I remembered looking back to my left before pulling out, seeing no one, and then as I was already more than half way in the road I saw the car speed over the hill to my left. What if I had done something different? If I were to speed out of the driveway, would he have still tried to pass me? It would have taken him longer to pass me and a could have he could have hit a car in the oncoming traffic. What if he lost control as he passed me? What if I sped out of the driveway and lost control? He could have hit me at a very high speed. What if there was an oncoming car? He was going too fast and I was going too slow, so I don’t think he could have stopped. In the end, I decided that I probably made the best decision. There was nothing I could really do to stop the mistake of someone else.
Then I began to ponder, what if I was the one speeding over the hill. What would I have done? I thought for a while, but realized that I don’t have to ever be in that situation. It was a really bad situation that could have been easily avoided. If he wasn’t speeding, I would have had time to see him and stop pulling out of the driveway. Even if I had been pulled out of the driveway too soon, he would have been able to slow down if he was going the speed limit. He wouldn’t have had to risk passing me and driving into oncoming traffic.
I had an epiphany at that moment. I then understood why speed limits and rules of the road are so important. They prevent accidents from happening. They save lives. Now when I drive, I make sure I’m following the speed limit very closely. I don’t want to be that guy flying over the hill putting someone who is following the law in a bad situation. I don’t want to ignore a stop sign and hurt someone who did make a complete stop. Without that scary moment, I still might be driving too fast and eventually pay for it. I now know to follow the rules.