It’s been more than a week since a car hit my scooter while I was driving, but I can’t stop replaying the moment in my head. I can still hear the car’s brakes screeching futily. I can still feel the road scraping my hands and my back as I tried to catch myself. I remember looking at one of my best friends, who was riding on the back, with tears and shock in both of our eyes. Gasoline was spewing from the scooter — which my helmet was resting safely inside of.
I walked away with a minimal fracturing in my lower spine. My friend made it out with small fractures in her foot. We both suffered from some road rash, swelling and bruising. All things considered, we were fine. We left the scene without falling victim to a much worse outcome.
Still, I can’t stop thinking about what could have happened if the car had hit my scooter at a different speed or a different angle and either of us had hit our heads. Then what?
There are a lot of reasons I usually decide not to put on my helmet when I get on my scooter; I just straightened my hair; I’m just scooting on campus; I’m just too lazy to unlock the seat compartment and fasten the helmet and lock the seat compartment again.
Probably the most convincing reason I rarely put on that black piece of fiberglass is that pretty much no one else does. I don’t have to either, I tell myself. I never realized what a stupid reason that was until last week.
Since the accident, I’ve realized how lucky I am. I have friends who waited at the emergency room until 5 a.m. and put barstools in the middle of the dance floors at Midtown so that I can feel like myself again, without standing up for too long. I have parents who tried to drive five hours in the middle of the night to make sure I was okay. I’m alive and well, and I can write this column. I’m almost ready to get back on a scooter, but I won’t even think about doing that until I have a helmet on.
We’ve made scooters a part of our culture at UF, and it’s time we make helmets a part of it, too. Before the accident, I was the type to say “good for you” when I saw someone put on their helmet, like that extremely logical decision was commendable. I’d make a mental note that I should start wearing mine, too, but I’d never follow through. I’d lie to my parents and the scooter salesman that gave me a helmet for free if I promised to wear it all the time. I know I’m not the only one.
We all have to stop letting the small inconvenience of putting on a helmet (and offering one to our passengers) stop us from potentially saving our lives. We have to make it a habit, not a special occasion. We have to band together to make it weirder to see someone without a helmet than to see someone with one.
Take it from the very attractive doctor who wheeled me in to get an x-ray while I had dried mascara-tears all over my face.
“Can I give you a dad lecture?” he asked. He told me he had seen a girl, “just like you,” get into a scooter accident without her helmet and not make it out of the hospital. He told me it would make him feel a lot better if I promised to always wear mine.
I can’t let him down. Promise me you won’t either. I’ll be back to writing about boys and bars next week, and I couldn’t be more thankful.
Carly Breit is a UF journalism senior. Her column appears on Wednesdays.