Emily Lineberger's only driving experience had been putting around in her grandparents' golf cart until Tuesday night when her mother, Dayna Lineberger, passed out at the wheel of her car, the Charlotte Observer reported.
But the little girl managed to bring her mother's car to a stop.
"It was just her instinct and God riding on her shoulders," her mother said Thursday.
The Linebergers were on their way to Emily's gymnastics class when her mom started feeling lightheaded due to her ulcerative colitis, so she decided to stop and get food at the KFC nearby, the newspaper said.
"Then it just hit me," said Lineberger, 40. "The last thing I remember is screaming to her, 'Tell me where to turn,' because I couldn't see ... "
Lineberger passed out as she headed into the KFC lot and her daughter leaned forward and grabbed the wheel, dodging another car before hitting a telephone pole and stopping.
Doctors said Lineberger was dehydrated from the colitis.