NORTH FULTON, Ga. — Alpharetta resident Molly Welch is spreading a message that is often heard – do not drive distracted – but it is her personal story that give so much weight to her message.
Welch knows firsthand the dangers of distracted driving. A 2008 traffic accident led to her being in a coma, having to relearn skills to walk and enduring injuries to her brain and spine. Nine years after the life-altering event, she is spreading her message in the hope that others will take her experience to heart and realize that one second can change everything.
In 2008, Welch was a junior at Auburn University pursuing a journalism degree. She had returned home for a short weekend to visit a friend, and was driving back to the school when a momentary lapse in concentration led to years of recovery.
Welch took her eyes off the road to play a recording of an interview she had conducted. In her lapse in concentration on the road, Welch veered into oncoming traffic and was struck by a pickup truck.
The subsequent crash left her in a coma for weeks and resulted in a traumatic brain injury. When Welch came out of her coma, she was unable to walk. It would be another three years before she was able to do so. The injuries also left her nearly unable to speak.
But nine years of dedication and personal drive, including speech and physically therapy at Atlanta’s Shepard Center, have led Welch down the road to recovery. Though her accident forced Welch to wait another three years before finishing her bachelor’s degree in journalism, four years after the accident, she completed her degree.
Now 30, Welch volunteers as a peer counselor and motivational speaker with the Shepard Center and her service goes beyond the center’s walls.
Through public service announcements and online videos, Welch is sharing her story in the hopes that others will heed her advice. One of the PSAs she is featured in has been nominated for a Southeastern Emmy Award for community and public service.
Welch said the influx of technology, and their use in cars, makes the PSA and her story more valuable than ever as distracted driving has rapidly become a pressing social issue.
“It’s the perfect time to make it,” she said.
She hopes her story can show that distracted driving, even just glancing away from the road for a brief moment, can have detrimental effects.
“I want to let people know the outcomes that distracted driving can have,” Welch said. “I don’t want anyone to have to deal with what I’ve been through.”