A friend of mine was hit by a car this morning while bike riding. When I talked to them, they didn’t sound like someone who’d been in a traffic accident, they sounded like a victim of a physical assault. Putting contemporary cultural and legal idealisms aside, that’s what someone is doing when they smash you with 1.5-2 tonnes, GBH. The offender often takes on the role of the assailant too; anger, blame, fear of being caught/punished, etc. We might be cultured to believe that this is an accident, but reality always seems to push that aside while it is happening.
I’ve never hit anyone while driving a car, but I know what it’s like to be hit.
First is the terror. The terror are the moments of evaluation; will this kill me, wheel-chair me, brake my bones, or bruise and wound me. It’s not always obvious what the outcome will be once you realise you’re going to be hit. One time I imagined my death, other times I’ve known that this is just going to hurt... a lot... for weeks.
Second is the fall and the roll. Thankfully, this is fairly automatic. You’re still terrified at this point.
Third is the ground. The sweet ground. Not moving. Awaiting. You’re going to be okay. The terror has gone.
Fourth is the pain. When it comes - and it will come - it’s always worse than you first imagine it will be. I don’t know why.
Fifth is the fear. Not wanting to ride on roads again. Avoiding any situation that requires a car driver to act rationally. The worst thing about this state is that it eventually goes away.
(Some people skip steps two and three when they fall unconscious. But they know the terror. Some people skip all of these steps.)
I hope my friend gets better soon. It’s a horrible experience.