When Nicole Rosen was 16-years-old, she and her sister went to dinner and out dancing. Nicole wasn’t drinking, but her 20-year-old sister was. When it was time to leave, Nicole tried to take the keys from her sister, but she refused. They fought in the parking lot over who should drive. Despite Nicole’s pleas to let her drive since she hadn’t been drinking, her sister got in the car and drove off, leaving Nicole behind.
Nicole found a police officer and told him what happened, and called her mother to ask her to come pick her up. Nicole and her mother went back to her sister’s house and to wait for her. Around 4:30 a.m., they heard the knock on the door. It was an officer informing them that Nicole’s sister had been involved in a crash and was at the hospital.
Underage and impaired, Nicole’s sister drove the wrong way down a highway and clipped the tail end of an 18-wheeler, despite the truck drivers attempts to get out of the way. Luckily, Nicole’s sister only sustained minor injuries, and the truck driver was uninjured.
The next day, Nicole went to get her sister’s belongings out of her wrecked car. The passenger side, where Nicole would have been sitting had she agreed to ride with her sister, was completely smashed in. “If I was in that vehicle, there is no way I would have survived that crash,” Nicole says. “I thank my lucky stars every day that I knew not to get in the car with someone who had been drinking.”
There are many ways to feel victimized by drunk driving. Nicole may not have been in the car for the crash, nonetheless she was left with the emotional aftermath from the choice someone she loved made, and how close she was to being harmed. Even though she did everything she could think of to prevent her sister from driving, she felt helpless, knowing that the situation could have been avoided, but wasn’t. She was also left with the fear of how dangerous our roads can be because of drunk drivers and terrified to even drive.
Now, Nicole works with MADD to help spread awareness about the dangers of underage drinking and the importance of never getting in the car with someone who has been drinking.
“I still feel lucky that I was able to make the decision at such a young age to not get in the car when someone has been drinking,” Nicole says. “All of my friends know how strict I am about drinking and driving, I am always the one to offer to be a designated driver or call a taxi.”