Hit (on) the Road!

Anne Johnakin, Reporter

Colonial Forge is no stranger to student car accidents. During the 2003-2004 school year, four students lost their lives to accidents, causing the teaching of driver’s education and the weather policies in Stafford County to be reevaluated.  Fortunately, we have been able to avoid a death for years, but accidents happen to student drivers every day.

In the United States, auto accidents are the leading cause of death from ages 15-20. Forge’s students have thankfully defied death, but they still are suffering both the physical and mental repercussions of being in a car accident.

 

Jessica Bachman:

Jessica Bachman (‘19) got into her first accident on the way to school in November. She was pulling out of her driveway when she backed up into her neighbor’s car.

“My rearview mirror and the back window was fogged up, so I think the weather very much contributed,” Bachman says. She is part of the 3% of weather-related crashes caused by fog.

At the time of the accident, Bachman had had her license for 9 months.

“I consider myself a safe driver. My mom drives very safely.and my dad died because of a car accident so I’m not going to take any risks,” Bachman says.

Thankfully, her accident was minor and she suffered no physical injuries. If anything, her injuries were purely emotional.

“I am more cautious backing up. I get very aware and possibly scared when I back up.”

 

Anthony Piccoli:

Driving to his friend’s house after a cross country meet last October, Anthony Piccoli (‘18) totaled his car. He was turning left, but didn’t yield, and hit someone.

Piccoli blames the accident on being distracted. “I was talking to someone in the passenger seat, and I messed with the radio right before it happened,” he says.

16% of car accidents are caused by distracted driving, with cell phones being the biggest cause. Despite being distracted, Piccoli didn’t expect to get into an accident.

“Actually, I didn’t realize I was gonna hit them until I actually did hit them. I had to register in my brain like, ‘What just happened? I can’t believe I just did this.’ I was shocked beyond compare,” Piccoli says.

Thankfully, no one got hurt in the accident. The most damage was done to Piccoli’s car.

“My car was totaled. But we found a way to save it from the junkyard and then we fixed it up,and it’s back on the road. Their car actually wasn’t that damaged,” he says.

The biggest repercussions from getting in the accident was dealing with insurance and going to court.

“[Going to court] was the scariest moment on my life,” Piccoli says, “No one pressed charges, thank God, but I had to go to an 8-hour driving class on a Sunday. I had to pay the fine. I had to pay the ticket. I had to pay a bunch of stuff.”

A little over a year after his accident, Piccoli has dealt with the emotional consequences of crashing his car. He doesn’t think he was a good driver at the time of the accidents, but now he is.

“I was scared from October to April. I didn’t want to drive at all during that time. I realized I’m a better driver, so right now I’m not scared to drive. I feel like me having that accident helped me become a good driver, because I knew what not to do.”

 

Ms. Swayze:

In driver’s education classes, teachers educate students on the basic of driving and try to make them the safest drivers possible. Ms. Swayze started teaching drivers ed at Forge in 2009 and she loves the job because of its significance.

“It’s a lifetime skill and it’s really important. I really want them to do well in there, because if they get a bad grade it affects everyone that’s on the road,” Swayze says.

When teaching, Swayze uses her own personal experience driving to illustrate the concepts covered, including her experience with car accidents.

“With the same car three times I was rear ended and I learned to call the police and make sure to get all the information because the first time I was rear ended the person wasn’t licensed and wasn’t able to take car of the damage,” Swayze says.

If she could give any advice to student drivers, it’d be to slow down, especially when in in traffic.

“Going around the curves around here is the number one reason why students get into accidents because they don’t slow down,” Swayze says, “And the other part of that is distracted driving and that ranges from messing with the radio, climate control, eating food, because we’re all in a hurry to go do things.