Archive | November, 2012

Quit Alcohol.Com – Dangers Of Drinking & Driving

Posted on 30 November 2012 by Monica Zech

It is my pleasure to introduce a new website dedicated to educating the public on the dangers of driving under-the-influence of alcohol and other drugs.  Please click on the following link:

http://www.quitalcohol.com/dangers-of-drinking-and-driving.html

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Stay Alert – Stay Alive – A Professional & Personal Perspective On Driving

Posted on 20 November 2012 by Monica Zech

 

Monica’s passion is “driving” safety.  Since 1984 she’s been speaking on behalf of all those injured and killed in preventable collisions.  Her lecture is called “Stay Alert – Stay Alive!”

Monica has been involved in broadcasting for more than thirty-five years. Her broadcasting career highlights; in 1971, at the age of 16, she became the first female broadcast intern at KGTV, Ch. 10, from Crawford High School.  She went on to work for a variety of radio stations as a news reporter and anchor.  In January of 1984 she became San Diego’s first female airborne traffic reporter, and soon after – San Diego’s first television traffic reporter for both the NBC and ABC local affiliates and heard on some ten radio stations.  Monica has been delivering lectures on driving safety throughout San Diego, Los Angeles, and Riverside Counties – and nationally.  She has received numerous news, safety and community service awards. (See her awards section)  Although Monica enjoyed her work as a reporter, she most enjoyed her research and lectures in the community on traffic safety.  She wanted to reduce the injury and death she was seeing as a traffic reporter.  Since the beginning, she has delivered these lectures on her own time, after work, evenings and weekends – using all her vacation and sick leave hours to deliver her safety message.   Following her broadcast career, she became the Public Information Officer for a fire department in San Diego County from 2001 to 2019.  By representing an EMS agency she was able to provide safety education as a full-time career.  In August of 2019, she retired from that position to dedicate her life to her safe driving lectures.

It was during her first year as a traffic reporter in 1984, while conducting research and working with local emergency agencies, trauma room doctors and various transportation and safety organizations, that Monica saw the “crucial” need to add safety education tips to her traffic reports – and to lecture on traffic safety in the community.

After eight years of safety lecturing, Monica’s work in traffic safety took on an even deeper meaning, when on June 5th, 1992; her own father was struck and killed by a DUI driver.  On that Friday evening, just after 6:00 p.m., Monica’s father was crossing at the corner of El Cajon Boulevard at Jessie Avenue in La Mesa. The investigation showed a vehicle stopped to allow her father to cross. As he started to cross, it was the next approaching vehicle, driven by a 23-year-old DUI driver, that began to go around and pass the stopped vehicle. In court testimony, the DUI driver claimed he saw a man crossing the street but thought this man would stop walking to allow him to continue to drive through. But Monica’s father was already in that second lane and the DUI driver, who should have stopped, struck and killed Monica’s 63-year-old father.  It was soon found that this 23-year-old driver had a blood alcohol level of .16, twice over the legal limit and he was driving on a suspended license.  It was the DUI driver’s 4th DUI arrest and it took her father to stop him – but it also took his life to do it.  In the picture below is the vehicle that struck and killed Monica’s father. The damage to the front windshield was caused by her father’s head striking the windshield, an indentation to the left front end of the vehicle was where his upper body struck. His body was then thrown some twenty feet into the air coming down head first into the center median across the street crushing his skull and causing his fatal injuries.

Again, it was the driver’s fourth DUI arrest. Demonstrating a continued lack of respect for the law.  This DUI driver never bothered to go to court to answer for his last two DUI arrests, so there were two misdemeanor arrest warrants pending when he struck Monica’s father. From the first DUI, his license had been suspended and he was driving without driver’s insurance coverage.  Sadly, despite this DUI driver’s previous DUI record, he was sentenced to a mere four years in prison. After serving hardly a year and a half of his sentence he was released for good behavior. (But was later thrown back in jail on yet another drug charge a short time later.) But, Monica’s father is still gone and very much missed by Monica and her family. His death has become a part of Monica’s lectures on the subject of DUI.  Although it’s been 20 years since his death, talking about her father is sometimes painful. But it’s important to Monica to take that pain and educate her audiences on how “precious” life is.  She also makes it very clear – she speaks in memory of all those killed and injured in preventable traffic collisions every day.

But, lightning can strike a family twice! On February 10th, 2005, just before 9 p.m., Monica’s then 24-year-old daughter was struck broadside by a 17-year-old female, unlicensed, DUI driver!  Thanks to her daughter’s alertness and quick actions behind the wheel, she was able to avoid a direct side impact to her driver’s door. The young lady did strike the front end of her car then fled the scene – only to be apprehended a couple of blocks away.

Victoria did suffer some minor injuries to her neck and back, and her vehicle sustained about $4,000 in damages. But, Monica is very thankful her daughter was able to avoid fatal injuries.  A year later she was able to see her daughter graduate from paramedic school in June of 2006 and marry a month later. Monica feels very blessed to have seen her daughter achieve two important dreams – to become a paramedic and to marry.  Her daughter is now a Physician’s Assistant.

Sadly, Monica meets many parents who are not so fortunate to see their children achieve their dreams.  Research shows many drivers, with suspended licenses from a DUI, continue to drive, often repeating the same driving behavior. That’s why it’s crucial we are always 100% alert behind the wheel and as a pedestrian.  Stats also show 40% of motorists drive without insurance, so make sure you have good “un-insured and under-insured” motorist coverage on your driver’s insurance policy.

 As a driver, Monica herself has been a victim several traffic collisions – she’s been hit by several distracted drivers and with a STOP sign runner.   In the first incident, in 1996, she was struck by a motorist who was busy talking on his cell phone and looking at paperwork across his steering wheel as he flew into a parking lot in Escondido.  Monica was in that parking lot, and seeing a flash of red turned to see a large red pick-up truck heading straight toward her driver’s door, she quickly hit the gas speeding forward and the driver struck her back door and avoided certain death.   Then on August 29th, 2003, Monica was on her way to a CHP office in El Cajon when a motorist ran the STOP sign at the bottom of the ramp from west 8 to East Main Street.  The driver ran the STOP by two car lengths and failed to look left, pulling directly into Monica’s right of way.  Monica was able to slam on her brakes, leaving 22 feet of skid marks, striking the woman’s back door.

(Monica’s vehicle following the collision)

 Monica’s quick reaction saved that driver’s life, but, Monica suffered serious injuries and was transported to a local hospital.

Doctors later discovered Monica would require neck surgery.  A few months later, just before Christmas Eve, she had neck surgery that repaired the C-5 & C-6 area of her neck.

Two surgeons said Monica should have been paralyzed by this crash.   In 2010, she had knee surgery from injuries suffered from this crash.  These real-life experiences and those she sees in her work with police and fire, have added even more impact to her talks.

Buckle-up and stay alert to stay alive!

*For a professional and personal look at what it takes to be a “safe” driver for your school, group, military group or company conference please contact Monica Zech at (619) 219-9030, or email her at monicazech@cox.net.

 

 

 

 

 

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