Twenty-six days ago, a stranger in a truck turned left across two lanes of Route 6 to pick up his dinner at Kool Kone. He didn’t see the white corolla coming the other way – the one my son and husband were in. In a flash of air bags and squeal of brakes, the truck gained a huge dent and the corolla became a total loss. Everyone walked away – just some stitches between fingers that might or might not leave a light scar. But the story didn’t end there. Insurance claims, paperwork, removing plates at the tow yard, and getting a rental car came in the accident’s wake. Once the settlement check arrived a few days ago, car shopping online turned into test drives and signing papers on a black 2016 Mazda. There will be a few inconvenient days until we can pick it up, but then life should return to its usual routine. But it won’t ever be the same.
The insurance check will pay about two years of car payments, and the Mazda’s slightly better gas mileage and lower odometer reading will save us some money at the gas station and garage. But we will spend thousands more than we would have done if the accident had never happened – if the truck driver had taken an extra few seconds to make sure there was no oncoming traffic or if my son and husband had driven past Kool Kone ten seconds earlier or later. One person’s error in judgement affects others; fortunately for everyone, the cost is only in dollars and inconvenience rather than debilitating injury or loss of life.
I think about it when I get behind the wheel. What I do as a driver connects me to the other people behind the wheels of every car I see and the one in the blind spot that I can’t. They are my road neighbors, God’s beloved in the traffic. I may not be responsible for their lives, but I am responsible to order my driving life in a way that doesn’t put them at risk unnecessarily.
Am I my brother’s keeper? Like it or not, every time I drive down the road I am.