A lesson in driving safety

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas-- -- It was December of 2005 when I got into my first car accident.

I was traveling down Carter Avenue in my hometown of Pawtucket in Rhode Island. Carter Avenue happened to be the very street I live on. Looking back now I suppose the old adage about most vehicle accidents occurring within one mile of a person's home was dead on accurate for my case.

A blizzard had hit our town the night prior and the roads were caked in thick New England snow. As nightfall neared, the flurries started up again. My friend got a call from his father to hurry home to help prepare for the hours of shoveling that would undoubtedly soon ensue. The ride, which was a mere half mile down the road, was like a journey through Antarctic tundra.

There was one stop light on the way, on the corner of Carter Avenue and Newport Avenue. We were about 200 feet from the stoplight, which shined bright green when it suddenly turned to yellow. Now, I had a decision to make and I chose wrong.

I decided to accelerate through the intersection as fast as I could. What I hadn't planned for was my "all-terrain" tires spinning out instead of propelling the vehicle forward. The light turned red long before we reached the intersection, forcing me to make every attempt to stop before heading into oncoming cross traffic. Unfortunately, the brakes on my SUV locked up causing the vehicle to slide into the intersection.

My friend and I grasped at whatever we could, terrified because we knew what was about to happen. We were about to be in an accident. We slid past the first lane, the second and the third-all without so much as a scratch, but halfway through the fourth lane of cross traffic my SUV suddenly turned 90 degrees and came to a stop. We didn't actually feel the impact of the Cadillac that slammed into us, but the driver sure felt us.

Thankfully, the only thing that was hurt in the accident was a front bumper and my provisional driver's license. A lesson was definitely learned about driving in the winter snow that day. When you're approaching any intersection in hazardous road conditions, be sure to yield and take every precaution the road grants because you never know when you might need to make an abrupt stop.