Jacob Smith’s story: get bitter or get better
The day of my crash began as one of the best days of my life. I had just come back from attending a conference as a state representative of Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA). After speaking to over 5000 students about cherishing every moment in life, I was elected as a National Officer Candidate.
But the day ended in disaster. As we were driving back to Whitehouse, Texas, our school vehicle was hit head on. I do not remember the crash at all. I suffered traumatic brain injury, facial and other injuries. I was later told that the driver of the other vehicle was distracted and had 2 previous driving while intoxicated (DWI) convictions.
I couldn’t believe how my life changed in seconds: from being a leader on stage speaking to my peers, to being in the hospital not understanding simple tasks like reading or writing. I remember being frustrated, confused and sad. My life had changed mentally, physically and emotionally.
However, through recovery I realized that I had a choice: I could get bitter or get better. Although I would never be the “Jacob” I was before, I could strive to be better in many different ways. Even during the dark times, I knew that if I could get out of the hospital, I would begin empowering my peers to make safe decisions on the road.
More than 1.4 million people are affected by road traffic crashes a year, globally. Road crashes are the leading killer of young people. Luckily, I survived and I continue to strive for safer roads.
In the future, I hope to see investments in programmes and projects to engage young people from across the globe. Currently, not enough young people are part of the global road safety solution. I also call for a World Youth Assembly for Road Safety. With these efforts, road traffic injuries and deaths will be reduced.