By Leah Trost
“This happened to me”
One day, I was driving to my job and went the route I always went. Traffic was somewhat
bad because it was near rush hour. The car in front of me in the intersection had turned
left, and I made sure to check it was clear to go. While I was turning left in the
intersection, I saw in the corner of my eye a car coming towards me with its left turn
signal on. My first thought was that they were changing lanes. I was wrong. The car
hit me on my passenger side and turned my car 180 degrees. This was really scary for me
because I had never gotten into an accident before. Bystanders helped me get out of my
car and calm me down. I was in shock from the accident and was thinking it was a dream.
911 was called, and I was taken in the ambulance to get checked out. I was still in shock
when I was taken to the hospital to make sure everything was okay. My mental health
declined after the accident because I was nervous to get back in the car. I felt weak
because accidents happen all the time. Talking to my therapist has helped tremendously
with how I can work on being less anxious while driving as well as being in a car as a
passenger. As of today, I am better about feeling less anxious while driving or being in a
car. However, there are still some periods of time when I get car anxiety and have to
calm myself down.
“My story is not unique, here’s the problem”
My accident story can relate to traffic safety and mental health. This relates to traffic
safety because I believe that this problem is very common because car accidents happen
more than we realize. Focusing on young adult drivers, I believe that we need to provide
more education on the importance of being safe while operating a motor vehicle.
Throughout the United States, young adult drivers have a high rate of crashes and crash
deaths (1). I think this problem is something that needs to be worked on because
sometimes car accidents are fatal. Fatal accidents are the ones that are seen in the news or
on paper. In America, the fatal crash rate per mile driven for 16 to 19-year-olds is nearly 3 times the rate for drivers aged 20
and over (1). I believe young drivers tend to experience car accidents because they don’t
have that much experience driving on the road yet. This doesn’t mean that other drivers
experience car accidents as well. In addition to traffic safety, my accident relates to
mental health because individuals can be scared or anxious to get back in the car again
after an accident. This happened to me personally. My parents had to force and influence
me to get back into a car to start driving again after my accident. I was super anxious and
nervous to go driving. I ended up starting to drive throughout my neighborhood with my
dad until I felt more comfortable driving on my own.
“Here is a non-profit working to solve the problem”
National Foundation for Teen Safe Driving (NFTSD) is a non-profit organization that
focuses on reducing the number of deaths and injuries resulting from automobile crashes
by promoting safe driving and passenger safety through leadership, education, and
awareness (1). This organization has programs and workshops available to parents-teens.
There are also awareness campaigns as well as car dealerships raising awareness for car
safety and reducing the risk of car accidents happening (1). They suggest that individuals
need to be educated on traffic safety and car safety when driving a vehicle. This won’t
happen overnight, but if we keep educating people, maybe the percentage of car accidents
will decrease slowly. This foundation has many partners that work with them to ensure
adolescents in particular are educated on the dangers of accidents. Some of these partners
include Lithia 4Kids, Impact Teen Drivers, Florin Roebig, etc (1).
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a non-profit organization that focuses on
mental health and is dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans
affected by mental illness (2). NAMI provides advocacy, support, education, and public
awareness that all individuals affected by mental illness can have better fulfilling lives
(2). This organization has education programs that can get an individual the support and
information they need. NAMI also has a NAMI HelpLine which allows employees to
respond to hundreds of thousands of individuals each year (2).
“Here’s what you (the reader) can do to help, right now!”
What can you do to help, right now? Individuals when operating a motor vehicle are to
make sure to pay attention to their surroundings and be careful with speeding. This can
help lower the chances of getting into a car accident as well as being cautious as a new
driver. Accidents can occur at any time of the day, and bringing awareness to how common
they are can influence how individuals feel about the topic. Bringing awareness can also help
individuals who have been a part of an accident or fatal accident and can allow them to see
how prevalent car accidents are. In addition to bringing awareness to
how often car accidents happen, we can bring awareness to mental health as well. Mental
health is something that we don’t talk about enough in America. I believe there is a
stereotype about talking about mental health. Opening up can allow individuals to become more
comfortable with talking about their own mental health with others.
(1) About NFTSD. NFTSD. (2020, October 31). Retrieved September 18, 2022, from
(2) What we do. NAMI. (n.d.). Retrieved October 16, 2022, from https://nami.org/About-
What do you think?