Mobile phone use while driving leads to around 1.6 million crashes each year, according to the US National Safety Council.
Gabriela Hernandez, from Washington, is a lucky survivor of someone taking the risk of dialling while driving.
The 23-year-old was in the car, just five minutes from home, with her family when a woman on her phone failed to stop at a red light, leaving Gabriela hospitalised for months.
Her brother shared her photos on Reddit to raise awareness of the dangers of using a phone while driving as well as celebrating her incredible recovery.
Speaking to UNILAD, Gabriela remembered what she could of the fateful incident:
Honestly, I don’t remember much. There were four of us in the vehicle, including myself. My father was the driver, and my mother was the passenger. Then in the back was my brother and I.
We had just barely pulled out of our driveway, not even five minutes driving , my father stopped at the first traffic light.
My dad was turning left to turn left, and out of nowhere came a car and T-Boned my father’s car on the side that I was sitting on. I may not remmeber exactly how the accident happened , but I remember everything that was happening around me after the fact.
I remember my whole body was sore, my right eye was bleeding and I felt there was glass inside. My entire face was in pain. I couldn’t even sit up straight and I had no way of knowing if my back was injured , until the paramedics came and took us.
I was informed that the glass inside couldn’t be removed, my two ribs were fractured which also caused punctures in my liver. As a consequence, they needed specialists to take it from there, they flew me to Seattle Hospital known as Harborview Hospital.
She elaborated on her extensive injuries and prognosis:
Long story short, I spent two months in the hospital and got surgery in my eye. It took 2 months at the hospital , but I still have follow up appointments until this day, because of the damage that is left on my right eye. I have small scars all around my eye.
That day, there were two or three witnesses who testified against the other driver for texting and driving, causing her to run a red light and T- bone us. She was held 100 percent liable for the physical damages done to us and the car.
Having survived what could have been a very different story, Gabriela has been given a new outlook on life:
When this happened to me, it caused me to look at myself, physically, my life, and everyone around me differently. Most importantly, it made me feel grateful for being alive, thanks to God. After accepting that, it also motivated to do something of myself and I had to start by finishing school despite how ‘different’ it would be.
Speaking about the reaction she’s received online, Gabriela said the comments have been largely positive but had some sarcastic comments saying ‘oh wow , who knew you could recover from accidents’ or ‘the injuries don’t look that bad, what is the point you are trying to make?’.
She spoke about how her dad still has nightmares about the accident, blaming himself despite it being confirmed as the other driver’s fault.
The purpose of this post was to recognise that I was so close to crashing mentally, and to giving up on everything. But I was lucky enough to have my family with me, and supporting me every step of the way.
To me this post was for awareness, to all those people who have or are currently in similar or worse situations. To know, that despite the trauma, their goals should remain the same and that if they set their mind to it, they can accomplish it like me and many others.
At any given time throughout the day, approximately 660,000 drivers are attempting to use their phones while behind the wheel of an automobile.
It is a hugely dangerous risk to take, this story shows it’s not worth it.