“God, help me!” by Reva Lachica Moore

(I borrowed this picture from the internet for illustration. Of the hundreds of pictures there, this is the closest picture to what happened to me.)

On September 1, 2001, I became part of the national statistics of those who had automobile accidents due to falling asleep behind the wheel. Thank God I wasn’t hurt even though my Toyota Previa was totaled. It was my first car wreck after 32 years of driving, and I hope it will be my last.

It happened one Saturday afternoon as I drove from Alexandra to Baton Rouge. Midway, I started to doze off and when I awoke, it seemed as if I was driving on ice. Right away. I realized that my van was headed towards a watery ditch. I quickly steered to the left. Then I realized I was face-to-face with several oncoming cars! So I steered to the right, and then to the left, screaming to God for help, and I felt my hand had let go. And as if an unseen hand had turned the steering wheel to the right. The van spun around and turned halfway over, with the driver side in a watery ditch. I tried not to panic. I had read stories of cars landing in water and the people in them drowning.

Soon, water started sipping in so you can just imagine what I was thinking. I had no idea how much water was in the ditch. I managed to get up, but couldn’t think of how I should get out and thought of rolling the windows down. But the driver’s window was now partially submerged in water. Due to my fear. I couldn’t think straight and I started to wonder: “Will someone see my car?” I wanted to scream for help but couldn’t. I couldn’t hear anything either. The van was airtight. A few minutes later, someone opened the top of my car. ‘Oh, someone opened the sunroof,’ I thought to myself. But then I remembered that my van did not have a sunroof. It was the passenger door. Someone had opened it. I heard a voice, “Are you OK? Are you OK?”

A hand helped me get out. I was wearing my church dress because I drove after attending a church service in Alexandria. I was able to grab my purse but I lost my favorite pair of shoes and my Bible in the mud. I felt like someone who should be on the 5 o’clock news because within a few minutes after my wreck, five police cars with roving lights showed up. Plus 2 ambulances and a firetruck. By this time, traffic on both sides was backed up. I sat inside a police car for some two hours until my son Adam came. I was lucky that I came out alive, and without a scratch or a bruise, and nobody else got hurt. The one thing I knew – I had fallen asleep at the wheel, and it almost caused my life. I never saw my car again. I called my car insurance and they took care of it. They gave me a check for $8K for the totaled car. I got another car the following week.

My coworker’s husband wasn’t as lucky. His car crossed the median into an oncoming 18-wheeler. The police is certain that he must have been trying to open the glove compartment, for it was open after the accident.

Another coworker involved in another fatal wreck was talking on her cell phone. The person she was talking to heard when she crashed.

Here are some facts:

42,000 Americans died in 2001 due to vehicle crashes according to the national highway traffic safety administration in NHTSA. Some form of driver destruction is a factor in 20 to 30% of all automobile crashes.

Falling asleep was responsible for 100,000 crashes, 40,000 injuries and 1550 deaths every year according to NHTSA

Something as simple as turning on your radio or glancing away from the road can cause an accident, and inattention causes small crashes.

A recent NHTSA survey found that 75% of drivers reported using their phone while driving and estimated 60% of cellphone calls take place behind the wheel.

The NSC recommends these steps:

It only takes a second for an accident to happen. Stay committed to paying attention behind the wheel to avoid sudden slowing down and crashing.

Do not reach or pick up anything or open the glove compartment or clean inside the windows, or perform personal grooming while driving.

Do not drive if you’re tired. Do not daydream. Share driving with another driver when going on a long trip.

Do not talk on your cell phone while driving. Wait until you get to your destination or pull over to the side of the road before beginning a cell phone conversation. If you must use your cell phone, use hands-free feature.

Do not answer or use your cell phone when driving. During hazardous conditions, always stay awake and be aware of what is going on around you.

Let’s heed the saying that says, “It’s better safe than sorry.” Pay attention to your driving. Don’t be a statistic.

Psalms 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

Note: I no longer drive (my husband JR is my driver) but before our car leaves the driveway, I first pray for holy angels to surround our car. We make it a point not to talk as soon as we shut the car door, so as not to get disrupted and forget to pray. A few times, when talking starts, my granddaughter Kaitlyn or Mary Grace had reminded me, “Mumu, pray.”
We also have called Uber to take us to places when JR couldn’t drive, and I tell the Uber driver that I will pray first before we drive off.