As we approach Christmas Eve, we approach the anniversary of the carnage to my previous car. I'll spare you the details, save to say that we were rear-ended at a red light, hard, by some hilljack in Bristol, Tennessee, and pushed into an oncoming car turning in front of us. The car was totalled.
I had never been in a car accident prior to that. In fact, I used to boast about how many accidents I've avoided in snow. When I'm actively driving, I have a strange sense of calm to react and process things, even in crappy conditions. I once slid through an intersection (and red light) without hitting any of the other cars. It never occurred to me that I could be in an accident simply by being stopped at a red light.
To this very day, it has affected my driving. I look in the rear-view every time I'm stopped now, and it makes me anxious. Because I saw the truck coming that hit us, I replay that in my head all of the time. It's like a recurring nightmare that happens when I'm driving.
I'm generally more cautious than I used to be with street driving. It's like I leave the house fully expecting someone to bounce off of me at some point. I haven't changed my freeway driving that much, but there's a fair amount of stress I endure with long distance drives. Driving into Chicago last summer, a place that is not meant to be driven in, was awful just for the four blocks from the freeway to our hotel.
If I'm being honest with myself, being a more cautious driver is probably not a bad thing, especially since I also carry a smaller passenger much of the time. I'm just surprised that it has stuck with me as long as it has. Since I worked at home this year, I didn't do a ton of driving outside of our big trips. I think that accident will stay with me for awhile.