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Woman says she gave up on driving after 13 car accidents

Dominic Smithers

Published 
| Last updated 

Woman says she gave up on driving after 13 car accidents

A woman gave up on driving after being involved in 13 accidents before the age of 30.

Jennifer Cairns, from Ohio, has a generalised anxiety disorder, autism and ADHD, and believes that all of the bumps she has had have made her incredibly nervous of getting behind the wheel of a car.

She had her first crash when she was just seven years old, when her mum's car skidded on the ice.

And since then, things have gone downhill for the mum-of-two.

The 50-year-old, who now lives in Belfast, said she believes she may have PTSD from all the accidents she's been involved in over the years, despite not driving in over two decades.

Recalling the first crash she was involved in where she was the driver, Jennifer said: "It was probably one of the most dramatic of all the crashes.

Jennifer Cairns has been involved in 13 accidents. Credit: PA Real Life
Jennifer Cairns has been involved in 13 accidents. Credit: PA Real Life

"I had literally just found out that day that, ironically, my best friend, who lived right down the street from me, had a car accident and was killed by a semi-truck.

"Around two hours after her accident, I totalled my car less than a mile up the street from where we lived.

"I think I found out she was in the hospital, so I shouldn't have been driving.

"I was driving and spilt out on the road and ended up going through a fence backwards and crashing into a tree."

Jennifer hit her head and suffered a fracture to her orbital socket, and needed three operations.

But despite the harrowing experience, when she woke up, she was ready to go again.

"I think it was probably one of those things, as a teenager, and I just didn't think about it too much," she said.

"I just thought, let's jump back in, and nothing can touch me when I was in high school."

Her injuries have left lasting damage. Credit: PA Real Life
Her injuries have left lasting damage. Credit: PA Real Life

The following year, she was involved in another crash. This time, it was a 'friend of a friend' who was driving.

And while she lay injured on the back seat, they left her and fled the scene.

A few months later, Jennifer picked up her first car for $150, which she later found out was not in the best condition when she crashed on the motorway.

Luckily, she came out of it in one piece, though.

But the mum's run of bad luck continued, with the bonnet of another car of hers blowing up, followed swiftly by a scary crash in her ex-boyfriend's motor.

"We were going through an intersection, and another car ran the light and hit us," she recalled.

"I was injured and had to have physio on my head and neck, and had some cuts and burns."

She no longer drives because of her anxiety disorder. Credit: PA Real Life
She no longer drives because of her anxiety disorder. Credit: PA Real Life

Jennifer's final accident came when she was rear-ended at a set of traffic lights in 1999.

She said: "Someone decided not to stop and ran right through me.

"And again, I had a lot of damage in my neck, and I had to go for physio for about four months and had to have C6 surgery. Even now, I go for nerve injections in my neck."

Since moving to Northern Ireland, Jennifer hasn't dared get back behind the wheel

Though she has a provisional licence, she is unable to overcome her anxiety.

"It's strange because part of me thinks I would be more confident behind the wheel because I would be in control," she said.

"I think I've pushed my luck enough with driving."

Featured Image Credit: PA Real Life

Topics: US News, UK News, Cars

Dominic Smithers
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