True story. Ever since I got my license, I have been a shitty driver. For the first time ever I have had a clean, spotless driving record for the last 2 years. Oh wait, did I forget to mention I haven’t drove since 5/16/18 the date I got my traumatic brain Injury?
I got my license at 16. My dad taught me to drive in a parking lot that had hills and lots of empty parking spots on a non busy weekend. I learned to drive in a stick shift Toyota truck back around 1993 when I was 12 or 13. I remember I had to start at the bottom of the hill and go up. I learned to drive, he did not make it easy. I then got my permit and license. My parents picked me out a bright yellow 1984 Nissan Stanza as my first car from some old man on Bull Mountain, the interior was sweet, a brown plaid.
Me being me, I stickered the crap out of this bright yellow station wagon! I was/am so short that I barely could see over the steering wheel and looked about 12 years old at 16. I also probably had every color of hair at that time, pink, purple, black and so on. I always had people with me when I drove. Needless to say within 6 months of having my license I had gotten in a couple of wrecks and had multiple tickets in a row, usually for speeding. I had a heavy foot. So basically after only having my license for 6 months it was suspended until I was 18 years old. At the I time lived in Raleigh Hills with a boyfriend and worked at Nordstrom Espresso bar at the mall. This would be when I learned how to ride the bus, luckily for me the bus was in front of our apartment and it took me right to Washington square, across the street one would take me downtown. It was no big deal and my boyfriend at the time who was 3 years older didn’t drive or have a car by choice. So it was kinda normal. Before I lost my license, my last wreck in my yellow car totaled it. A guy in a big truck had cut us off, so we flipped him off. At the stoplight just 2 miles from my parents house he decided to ram my car and totaled it. But then I lost my license due to 3 infractions on my record, so no car, no license, no problem. My parents friends then sold them an 89 Toyota Corrloa 2 door sporty car. I didn’t have a license so it waited until I was 18 to be able to drive it, they did let my friend Michele drive me around in it for awhile so that was a bonus. One time at a NYE party when they let her drive it, it almost slid off a cliff at the party from people fighting on it.
One day I was driving in Sherwood to go meet my parents and new boyfriend for dinner. Well I rear ended someone on my way, the day I put that truck up for sale! Just my luck.
So that’s the start of my shitty driving record, and I can’t say it ever got better. Because I know I have never been a good driver, and I have made huge mistakes like drinking and driving, I have learned so much. After my TBI, I still had a license. However it made me so mad that the hospital discharged me with a license, at any time I could of got in my car and drove legally. But I knew that I should not. I had significant memory problems at the time, every day was a new day. So I didn’t. About 14 months after accident my husband let me drive on a backroad to our friends house, totally legal by the law. But we wanted to see how I would do and feel, in May 2019 we were going to pay an occupational therapist to do a driving test with me, but I decided to cancel because it was expensive and I did not feel ready. So when my husband let me drive, here is how it went:
I looked down at my watch most of the time I was driving, I was focused on watching my heart rate which was going up to 140 beats per minute. I should have been focusing on the road, yet I couldn’t stop looking at my watch. Luckily I stayed on the road and nobody was around. From the short 4 miles I drove, maybe even less, we decided that I am probably not ready to drive since my focus was off and my anxiety and heart rate were skyrocketed. Just as a passenger when my husband drives we see things that I do that aren’t safe. Like I have major road rage. I would want to run people over if I was driving and I have major anxiety, PTSD and a total fear of being hit and injured. Based on how I act as a passenger, we don’t think I can handle daily driving. My vision is also still affected and my eyes don’t work together and at times I see things that aren’t there, like I think we are going to hit or crash into something that is nowhere close. So being adults, knowing my driving history and past isn’t ideal, often feeling drunk even though I don’t drink, I have decided driving is not something I should be doing. Many TBIs are from driving accidents, I would hate to be the cause of an accident, killing or hurting them. So on my 39th birthday I walked to the DMV, I gave up my drivers license and they gave me an ID card for free. To get my license again I will have to reapply and take the tests again. This feels better to me, I want to be given a license because someone thinks I should have one. Who knows, that may be never. Many people with TBI can’t drive. Many do drive. But I know that as of now, 2 years post TBI, I am still in no way ready to drive and so therefore I don’t and won’t. I made the responsible decision to give up my license, it was the right decision. Even though I know I won’t drive, I don’t even want the option to if all of a sudden I think I can. I don’t want to hurt anyone, I want to keep our roads as safe as possible, and me being on the road is not safe. And maybe for selfish reasons, taking me off the insurance policy completely saved a few hundred dollars a year.
My driving history is so much more than what I listed. I once rolled my Toyota FJ on the beach up in Long Beach Washington. I had a full load of girls in it, we had all been drinking, I did some cookies and the FJ flipped multiple times. My dad had to pick me up hours away from home. Luckily nobody was hurt. I’m pretty sure every vehicle I have owned I have wrecked, and I have owned a lot of vehicles. If I didn’t hit someone, then usually I hit something. A rock, a post, a building. See I have NEVER been a good driver. I’m trying to think of one I didn’t wreck and I think it’s the 4Runner I have now, that we purchased June 1, 2017. So I didn’t even get to drive it for a full year and it had a blow and go in it the entire time I have drove it. I got it out the day before my accident.
Maybe someday I will be able to drive again. Maybe I won’t. I am very self sufficient in riding public transportation and make it work. I rarely get a ride or an Uber somewhere. I walk or take public transportation. That’s just life now and it’s what’s best for me and others and I am ok with it. I know now that if I ever do drive again, I definitely will not take it for granted. Not being able to drive is hard. It’s definitely a privilege, I am teaching my son how to take public transportation to appointments and helping him understand that not driving is totally normal for so many families who don’t drive. Many can’t afford the luxury and I take my situation as a teaching moment for my son, to show him how we can still live a fun, fulfilling life and driving is not a requirement. He has rode the bus and max with me to downtown and we ran some errands and caught a movie. Just quality time on public transportation.
So that’s my history of driving and not even fully in detail, that’s just probably half of it. I’m sure after reading it you feel better about me not being on the road. 🤣