I didn’t do anything when the van hit my car. I didn’t swerve, I didn’t hit the brakes, I didn’t even take my foot off the accelerator. I was frozen as I saw the tree coming straight at me.
I don’t think my life flashed before my eyes. I didn’t see major events from my childhood play out in front of me. I do remember looking at that tree and thinking, “and now I die”, because people don’t survive when their cars hit trees or poles. I wasn’t scared but I was sad.
I didn’t want to die.
I do remember thinking how annoyed I was that I was going to die in a car crash. My husband gave me grief all the time about my driving and I was so bloody pissed off that this might look like my fault.
I squeezed my eyes shut, held onto the steering wheel and waited.
When I opened my eyes I was still holding on to the wheel and the car was filling with smoke. My first thought was fire. I had to get out of there.
As I scrambled to get out of my seatbelt I heard myself screaming. A primal, terrified, desperate scream that didn’t sound like me but some other strange and savage woman.
I realised my car was on its side and I became even more hysterical trying to find a way out. The windscreen had shattered but was still in one piece. The only window that had smashed through was the small corner window in the back. I still have no idea how I did it but I climbed up and pulled myself through that little triangle.
That’s when I saw him. An old man in jeans and a denim shirt. Wiry and tanned and strong. Strong enough to pull me the rest of the way through that window and over his shoulder like a sack of flour. I swear that old bloke jogged to the side of the road with me on his back.
As he dumped me unceremoniously on the side of the road a teenager came running towards us. The driver of the car that’d hit me. I’ll never forget his face… he thought he’d killed me.
The old bloke waved him away and grunted at me, “you alright?”
I had no idea if I was alright. I was still screaming.
Then I was grabbed by a woman as she wrapped her arms around me.
“Shhhh” she said, stroking my hair like a baby. She led me to a car that had pulled over to the side of the road and sat me on the bonnet.
I looked up and saw a crowd of people. Maybe 8 or 9, gorgeous, caring people who’d pulled over when they saw the two broken cars in the field.
No one had seen the crash but they’d seen the aftermath and they’d stopped. I’ll never be able to express what that meant to me. I never knew any of their names.
Two women fussed over me, checking for injuries, rubbing my back, wiping my tears. A man gave me his socks because my shoes were missing. I couldn’t stop sobbing. I struggled to catch my breath.
I saw the old bloke sitting on the side of the road with the driver of the other car. A P-plater. He was patting the young boy’s shoulder. I remember thinking how kind that was. No one else was paying him any attention. He’d caused this accident.
Someone called my husband. Someone else took photos of the accident for me. She told me I’d want to see. She was right.
There was a fire truck, police, a couple of ambulances.
A paramedic gently bundled me into the back of the ambulance. A country bloke about my dad’s age who called me Sonic the Hedgehog. He told me my car saved my life because he’d been to enough accidents in 20 years to know he should be pulling a dead body out of that wreck. I still don’t know whether that was horrifying or comforting.
Despite rolling a few times, the solid cabin of my car was still in one piece. The seatbelt cracked my sternum and injured my shoulder and the airbag macerated the muscle in my arm. Thank God.
I know safety features are the unsexiest part of buying a car. But when you’ve been in a serious accident they become pretty bloody important to you. If I ever get on the topic of car accidents I’ll be that person banging on about side-curtain airbags and seatbelt pretensioners.
I’ve been driving a Ford Kuga for six weeks and what I love is that it has all those safety features and more. It actively tries to prevent accidents by telling you when you’re veering out of your lane and when someone is in your blind spot. It warns you when someone has braked suddenly in front of you and has adaptive cruise control so you don’t run up the back of someone when you’re on auto.
But my favourite is the Emergency Assistance feature. If your phone is synced and you’re in a serious car accident that deploys the airbags, the car will call triple 0 for you. The car will send a message that says you’ve been in an accident and gives the GPS coordinates of the car. Like a robot. It’ll keep the line open for you so that if anyone in the car is conscious and able to speak, they’ll be able to talk to the operator through the speakers.
As someone who is regularly driving along country highways, this is just about the sexiest thing about this car. I frequently worry about dropping off the side of the road and having no one come to my aid. Yes, I’m a drama queen, but I’ve had one serious accident and I know how easy it happens. And now with a little person in the car, I need to know that someone will come and save him if I’m unconscious. Or worse.
Last weekend I made a little stop at my crash site. I pass it every time I drive back to Canberra from Sydney and I think about the crash every.single.time. I think about the P-plater and I think about the old man who saved me. I think about the angels who pulled over to comfort me. I think about my poor little car and how it saved my life. I think about how lucky I was to be in that car and how I’ll never compromise on safety again.
This post is part of the #FordThinking Sponsor Challenge for Kidspot. Ford Australia has kindly given me a brand new Ford Kuga Titanium to test drive for six weeks and I’m loving it!