Car Accidents and the Ways of the World

by Mike Ratliff 

I thought I was pretty smart leaving work about 30 minutes early today. It began snowing here about mid-morning and snowed all day. As far as snows go it wasn’t much, but with the heavy rains last night and the slushy condition of the roads as the temperatures dropped all day I knew that they would be slick. That was an understatement. The first 5 miles of my commute were at the blazing speed of 10mph. There were cars on both shoulders in various conditions with the ever-present State Trooper cars with their warning lights flashing. I remember praying as I started my commute that I would arrive home safely and that I would not be the cause of any one else having an accident. 

As I lumbered along between 5 and 10mph I was totally amazed that when I braked how I would immediately begin sliding. Then when I hit the gas pedal to speed up how my pickup rear end would fishtail. Then I finally got past all those accidents and came upon a section of road that was not ice, but slush. We all cautiously sped up to between 30 and 40mph. I was content to simply stay back and let everyone zoom past. I was intent on simply driving easy and safe. All went pretty well until I got within a mile of the first exit for the town in which I live. We were back on ice by then. Then I noticed a vehicle in the ditch. There was also one on the shoulder. I was maintaining a distance of about 6 or 7 car lengths between me and the group of cars ahead. There were some in the left lane driving at insane speeds. I mean, we were on ice! In any case, the third car in line ahead of me suddenly started spinning. I got out of the gas immediately and tried to slow down the best I could. It was if I was on skis on a down slope. The fellow in front of me managed to get by the one spinning when it temporarily went on the shoulder and partially in the ditch. However, those in the left lane seemed determined to keep me from pulling over there. I had no choice but to stay as straight as possible while trying to stop. 

I could tell that it was going to be close. I began shouting for the fellow in the spinning car to not try to get back out on the highway. If he stopped then I had just enough room to get by, but he pulled right in front of me as my pickup’s right front bumper slammed into his left front tire. You know, a 1998 Mazda B2500 pickup has great deal more mass than a 2009 Toyota Camry. Even though I was on my brakes and had no forward inertia coming through my drive train, the Camry was knocked back onto the shoulder and I simply kept going straight. The collision finally broke my forward speed and I was able to get stopped about one car length past the Camry. My first reaction was anger. All the ‘dude’ had to do was stay put, but NO he pulled right out in front of me! I got out and started stalking my way back to the scene of the accident. The passenger was out. She was apologizing all over the place and I could see that she was terrified. The driver was looking at the damage. Both were okay. I was unhurt. I called my insurance agent who told me to call 911, which we did. 

It took almost an hour for a Trooper to show up. He took our drivers licenses and insurance cards from us and told us to get back into our vehicles, which we did. Then a few minutes later he came over to my driver’s side and told me to drive up to the exit, take it, and pull into the McDonald’s Restaurant parking lot, which would be a great deal safer than trying to take care of this on the ice covered road and shoulder. It was as I drove over there that I noticed that my pickup was not the same. There was a rubbing sound coming from the right side and my Check Engine light was on. It seemed to be running okay, but after all, it is over 10 years old. The Trooper filled out an accident report, returned our driver’s licenses and insurance cards. He gave each of us an Accident Information Exchange form. Then I drove home. 

Now I am dealing with two insurance companies and I can tell that everyone involved seems to be doing all they can not to pay any more than they have to. In fact, some have warned me that the other fellow may very well try to change his story and make it my fault et cetera. I was also pressured to ‘not be so nice’ and make sure that I stand my ground. This was an accident. I do not see how either of us could have avoided it. I did ask the other driver why he tried to pull back out on the highway after spinning, but he replied that he was on the brakes as hard as he could be and it just would not stop. I understood that completely. 

As I pulled into my driveway this evening a couple hours later than I should have, I reflected on how God had answered my prayer about arriving home safe and not being the cause of an accident to any one else. Did He answer it? I am unhurt. I am home. I did not cause the accident, but that did not mean that I would not be involved in one. What purpose could this possibly serve then? 

God puts His people through tests and trials. Some of these are fiery trials. Our interaction with this world system is the source of much of this. These tests and trials are used by God to prune us to make us less self-reliant and more humble and dependent upon Him. I am sure that I am in for a great deal of aggravation dealing with this. I pray that God will work through it for my sanctification and that I will be a witness to all through this that reflects Christ’s character to them and that God will be glorified through it all. 

Soli Deo Gloria!

28 thoughts on “Car Accidents and the Ways of the World

  1. Last night after it had been snowing pretty much all day here and I was brushing the snow off my car to trek home, I, too, prayed. I told Jesus that his being there would be the only way I could get home safely that nght. Then he “answered” — “I’m the only reason you get home safely EVERY night.” It made me laugh. So often I get to thinking I’m in charge of the “small” stuff – takes a snowstorm to remind me that’s not so. Glad you are okay, and I am sure he will use all this aggravation to keep you close to Him. Soli Deo Gloria!!

  2. Pingback: Car Accidents and the Ways of the World - Reformata

  3. This reminds me of the accident I almost had the other day. As I was traveling down the road with a semi trailer loaded with corn there was a box van ahead of me. Though I was a safe distance behind I could not see that there was a school bus in the opposite lane that was about to pick up some children, since I was behind this big van. Well, instead of letting us go by, the driver put out the stop sign. All I saw was a van stopping in the middle of the highway. Since I was fully loaded at 80,000 lbs. There was no way I was going to be able to stop, and everyone behind the bus knew that also. I ended up hammering the breaks and just missing the van and pulling on to the shoulder and pulling right up next to the van. A friend of mine that was behind the van , who also had a child on the bus, thanked me the next sunday for avoiding that accident. She couldnt beleive how calm I looked, as she was absolutely horrified of what was about to take place. I dont think that calmness came from me, as a matter a fact I know it didnt. I know that the Lord was in complete control of everything that was happening . Mike that is the most humbling thing to realize.

  4. About 13 years ago I drove a Ford Probe. It was a 4 cylinder and excellent on gas. It was only a year old and I had a bizarre problem with it on my way to our formation. We had formation around 7 am for weekend drill in Atlanta. Our Gunny was strict about what time we should be there, so we had to be there at least 30 or 15 minutes early or we would have to PT or whatever they would make up to punish us. That morning it was dark and very early.

    As I got onto the entrance ramp, I hit something really hard that made the whole car shake and shimmy. It was not a pothole, but it sounded like it. It was something cement and raised just enough to seperate the ramp from the highway. I still don’t get it, but it shook my car so hard that it made the security feature disengage the fuel pump. My engine light came on and it cut off. I had to call a wrecker and my Gunny. It may have been better to walk the other 6 miles to be in formation than to call in with car trouble.

    You were in the Navy, so you know that car trouble doesn’t fly with NCOs. I did save my receipt from the tow truck, so I didn’t get in trouble. Everybody believed me for some reason. They usually ask you to give blood, take a polygraph, pass a background check, and a medical exam to get off Scott-free.

    Anyhow, the check engine light came on because of the security feature. It disengaged my fuel pump. Maybe your car has some kind of trip switch that you don’t know about. It wasn’t that expensive for them to reset it. The tow truck was expensive though.

  5. Amen Aaron! I didn’t mention that just as I entered I-35 to go home today I was behind a Semi. I couldn’t do anything except stay behind him. However, in my mirror I saw a huge truck sliding across the ice to avoid hitting me. He too hit the shoulder and ended up beside me. I thought that was my close call for the day.:-) I hate driving on ice, but as you said, the Lord is completely in control and sometimes He sees fit to reveal that to us. I am glad you were able to stop your rig brother.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  6. Yeah, I remember that Josh. I worked in the Computer Center of the Bureau of Naval Personnel and my shift started at 4:30am. One day we lost power over night in Arlington, VA. where I lived. I woke up to the phone ringing. It was my Chief wanting to know why I hadn’t showed up for my shift. He asked, “where are you Mike?” I said, “I’m in bed, why?” He said, “Well you are two hours late sailor!” I looked up and saw that the Sun was up, but my alarm clock said it was only 3:30am. I had to go to work, finish my shift and work the next shift as well that day. It didn’t matter that the power had been out for the whole city and I had a very good excuse. So, yes, I do know what you are talking about.

    I will have the Check Engine light checked out in the next couple of days. My pickup is over 10 years old and I have been babying it for the last several years. It’s been paid for since 2001 and I am not interested in having to take on a car payment again.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  7. I remember when that same Gunny got promoted and they replaced him with a Staff SGt. I was pretty close to the Gunny, but the new Staff SGt. hated me. I knew it was over for me then. I got volunteered for mess duty in the desert during some wargames just for looking at him when I thought that he called me. I missed some training, because of him, but I still managed to get some more weapons training back in Atlanta. They upgraded our MOS to the Avenger Weapons systems from ordinary Stingers. So they demanded that we pass another course back home. But after the course was over, he was back to giving me a hard time. Then I got volunteered for all kinds of rifle cleaning details, trash calls, and so forth. I never will forget mess duty out in the desert. The mess tent was about 130 degrees with high humidity because of the mechanical portable dishwasher they installed there. We would get up at 3am and work until 11pm the next night. Most of the people there were there because they were on the way to the brig. I wasn’t in trouble, they were just short on help, so they picked me. He enjoyed picking on me.

  8. Praise the Lord that you were not hurt Mike!
    I really believe that we are allowed to suffer the chaos of the present evil age. Hence, we find big piles and little piles of trouble that we need to deal with. This was a little pile of trouble, this should remind us to stay focused on Christ because it well help us maintain during the bigger troubles ahead.
    In Christ,

  9. We should all thank our Lord more often for the small blessings and answers to prayer that we so often take for granted. And yes, we should also take advantage of the opportunities that our Lord gives us to be a light for Him. Mike, thank you for this reminder.

    Now it’s time for you to help the American economy and buy a new GMC truck😉

  10. On a recent trip to visit my sister, 2 1/2 hours each way, I averaged 30 mpg (Imperial gallon) which is approximately 27 mpg (American Gallon). This is with my 5 cylinder, 2008 Canyon 4×4. For the short trips to and around town 20 mpg seems to be the norm.

    Since I’m retired from GM it is difficult for me to recommend any other brand.

  11. You know, Mike, we have a saying out here in western Colorado, as we part we’ll say, “drive fast, the roads are slick.” BUT we don’t actually practice it! Years ago it was so slick that for every step I went forward, I’d slide back two. I never would have made it to work that day except that I gave up and tried to return home……
    Glad you’re ok bro.
    Pastor Paul

  12. Thanks Paul! I am a bit leery about driving in the ice and snow now. I am also looking all around me more and leaving as much space as possible between me an the ones in front. Thanks for the encouragement brother.

  13. Mike, happy to hear you and everyone else involved in the accident are not hurt. But the pruning hurts! :-) My mom recently got into an accident, but is okay, too. “Tis the season I guess. At first it looked like her insurance wouldn’t pay to repair her car, amongst other issues, but everything turned around within about a day and now they will. Praise God for answering this prayer! He will see you through your ordeal, Mike, and use it for your good. I’ll be praying for you. Thanks for your continued faithfulness in ministry.

  14. Sorry I’m late, but just wanted to let you know how glad I am that you’re ok! We often have bad driving conditions here in PA too, so I sympathize with you! Praise God for His protection, amen?

Comments are closed.