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In 2009, when I was 18, I was following my parents' car to a lake on the Fourth of July. My girlfriend was beside me in my 1990 GMC pickup. Traveling down the county road, my phone vibrated in my pocket and I looked down at a text message from a friend.
My eyes were off the road maybe five seconds—it didn't seem very long. Next thing I knew, the truck was in the gravel on the shoulder and headed toward the ditch. I tried to swing back, but steered too far to the left, had to swerve again, hit the brakes—and the truck took over; there was nothing I could do to control it.
We went off the road and rolled three times. I could hear glass breaking, the roof caving in and my own voice screaming. Grass and dust were flying in the cab, and I kept looking at the steering wheel while outside everything kept spinning. The truck seemed to teeter like it was going to go over again, then fell back to earth on all four wheels and bounced. We both sat there in shock.
My dad had watched the whole thing in his rear-view mirror and my mom had been screaming to get out of the car while he turned around. He said it was the scariest thing he'd ever experienced. People ran up to the truck from the car behind us and a farm house nearby.
My girlfriend and I were very lucky that neither of us was hurt. That was one of the worst parts of this—that I had put someone else's life in danger.
It scares me now when I see friends texting while they drive, so I'll ask them not to or offer to text for them. Sometimes they still ignore me. Even though they know I had this experience, they don't really understand.
Copyright © 2010 Meredith Corporation.