Letter: Distracted Driving — Passing a school bus from a victim’s point of view

To the Editor:

The red stop sign of the bus flailed out and flashed brightly. I stepped onto the road and got ready to cross. As always, remembering to look both ways before crossing, I strained to turn my neck and looked right. Before I could even look left, I had hit the side of the road with a loud thud. I had gotten hit by a pickup truck.

Some may think how can someone miss flashing red lights and a long yellow school bus? However,  distracted drivers may not notice the colors most attractive to the human eye. A distraction unfortunately almost cost me my life.

Glass from the mirror of the truck was shattered everywhere. My glasses had been knocked off of my face. However, when squinting, I could see a faint, huge, crimson outline of my leg. The skin of my leg had completely been torn off. I could feel my shoulder aching, and understood there was no skin there either.

The back of my hip had been bruised, making it impossible for me to move an inch. I was terrified and alone. I started tearing up thinking it was my fault. I screamed for help and no one came. Cars kept passing by as if they couldn’t see a 12-year-old in pain. Fortunately, a woman from across the street helped me and called 911, and I am forever indebted to her for saving my life.

I was later treated at the Stamford Hospital for bruises and scrapes that weren’t as severe as expected. After the fact, I can talk about my incident with ease because I survived. But the    truth is I was saved by luck. The man who hit me didn’t intentionally injure me, he was distracted by the ringing of the phone on the passenger seat. Unfortunately, him trying to glance at who the caller was, that might have lasted a few seconds, almost cost me my life.

• Editorial: There is simply no excuse to not stop for school buses. None. Zero.

According to statistics the Darien Police Department has collected, in 2015, about 18.39% of the accidents in Darien, were due to distracted driving.  Over the course of two years, this percentage has increased to 21.65%.

We as a community need to ask ourselves, “Is an important phone call or speeding to get to one’s destination really worth it if someone gets hurt?” The moment we start being more cautious, we will gradually see a decrease in these accidents. Sometimes, we don’t understand the graveness of these situations until one of our own is affected. I never paid much attention to distracted driving either, until I became a victim of it.

Today, if I am supposed to cross a road, I always hesitate. I have been told this is natural, as it was a fearful event in my life. However, no child should ever be scared of crossing a road. Due to what happened to me, I have taken simple measures to be more precautious. I never let my parents have electronics anywhere near them when they are driving. I don’t let them fidget with the radio either. These general fixes will go a long way. I want to take the initiative and educate our community on this issue. If these measures are taken, and we, as a society can even save one life, it is most undoubtedly worth it.

~Rhea Bhat

Middlesex Middle School

Grade 8