ALPHARETTA, Ga. — It is a message often heard and always understood — distracted driving endangers all on the road — but sometimes we need a reminder.
That is the message behind a new campaign from Molly Welch, an Alpharetta native and founder of distracted driving awareness group A Second Later.
The group is fundraising for bumper stickers and magnets reminding drivers to keep their eyes on the road, a simple message with serious implications Welch knows all too well.
In 2008, Welch was a junior at Auburn studying journalism. After visiting a friend over the weekend, she was driving back to her school when she suffered the consequences of distracted driving firsthand.
Welch took her eyes off the road to play back a recording she had made of an interview. In that momentary lapse, her car veered into oncoming traffic and was struck by a pickup truck.
The crash left Welch in a coma for weeks and with a traumatic brain injury. The incident left her nearly unable to speak, and it was three years before she could walk again.
Welch’s story has a positive outcome, though, following speech and physical therapy. She completed her bachelor’s degree four years after the crash and now works as a motivational speaker and leads initiatives aimed at raising awareness of the dangers of driving while distracted.
It is her hope the bumper stickers and magnets will help keep drivers’ attention on the road ahead.
“I want to see them on the back of every car, bus or truck,” Welch said. “Like the name, ‘A Second Later,’ that’s all it takes. It’s not worth it. No conversation, no text message, it’s not worth the suffering and heartache.”
Marie Koch, owner of North Atlanta Kids Directory, became involved with Welch and the awareness campaign and emphasized the importance of the magnets as a reminder to stay focused while driving.
“It’s a nice reminder,” Koch said. “It can change your life, a stranger’s life and then you have the ripple effect to families, just because someone was putting on mascara while driving. It’s not just texting, it’s eating, being distracted by music or anything else.”
Welch said she hopes the stickers and magnets will raise awareness and help her get the message to others. Funds collected through A Second Later will be used to spread the word on billboards and in movie theaters. It will also help Welch to travel to other states to speak. Her message is geared to all ages. She has spoken before senior resource groups and to kids in fifth grade.
“Distracted driving can affect any age,” Welch said. “Kids definitely should make sure they are not a distraction, and make sure parents have a cell phone mount so they’re not holding the phone or distracted by it.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up for those who want to donate to the first round of magnets and bumper stickers and can be found at gofundme.com/f/keep-your-eyes-on-the-road.