Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Life’s Highway Nearly Cut Short by a Drunk Driver: I am the Lucky One

Arnie Gonzalez, Jr.
Pronto Insurance Marketing Department

The turn tables spin, the music blasts from the five 20 foot tall speakers, and Lil’ Wayne is the poet of the night. Drinks are flowing, like there is no tomorrow, long lost friends have found each other, after what seems like a hundred years of searching, and your crush is at the party; the ambience is bliss. One drink turns into two, three, and then four and so on; you were able to be the life-line and the blood that brought oxygen to the party’s heart. On the brink of being completely sedated, the party is over; it’s time to go home. The only thing you can really remember to do, at this point, is how to reach in your pocket and grab your keys. Why is it that people can’t remember how to dial a phone to call a designated driver? Taxi? There are so many programs out there to provide a ride to people who have become just a little too happy during the night’s festivities (http://www.austinsoberride.com/news_releases.html); why aren’t those
the things people remember? It’s astounding. I understand the best decisions are never made when inebriated, so if you think you are one that falls in this category, take the necessary precautions; you can get a card with one of your local sober ride program’s number on it, or you can simply put your keys in the ‘key holder’s’ hands for the night. There are so many options, but sadly, many times, they are not considered.
The road literally becomes a video game and gamble with too many variables, but the down side to this game is that it does not give you any extra life when you die. The scary part is that the innocent drivers, on the road, with their families become variables as well.
Of the 3,382 traffic fatalities, in Texas, during 2009, a little over 1,400 were alcohol related; just over 1,260 of those, alcohol related incidents, were with people several times over the legal Blood Alcohol Concentration which is 0.08 or higher. How many people have to die for people to realize that this is not a game that can be won; eventually fate will catch up to you. This is not Las Vegas, where people lose cash; people lose parts of their families; lives can not be brought back. Is it worth it? I am not an advocate against drinking, just one against doing it carelessly, and especially one against getting behind the wheel after a night of it.
Not to get too personal, but I was one of the lucky ones. One night, while driving home from work, I was hit head on by a drunk driver; I was working at a local restaurant, on South Padre Island, Texas, at the time. I was travelling towards Brownsville, Texas, on Highway 48, at approximately 1:30 a.m., when I was struck. It was June 29th, 1997, three days after my twentieth birthday. I regained consciousness to an unusual sound that I could not really distinguish. It turned out to be the helicopter that was waiting to take me to my undetermined fate and its blades were cutting into the wind. A DPS officer was screaming questions at me, trying to keep me from going under again, and the jaws-of-life were trying to pry open the doors to my 1986 Volvo that had become a recycled can in a matter of milliseconds. I could not focus; the lights that were blaring through the shattered windshield were still puzzling. What happened? All I can remember seeing, before I passed out again, was red, white, and blue flashing lights; my head was resting on the steering wheel that had been bent into the shape of a taco shell with the force of the wreck. The front of the car was literally resting on my knees, and the back bumper had been severely smashed and resting on the back of my seat. There was a small life-bubble, as I call it, where I was; I was fortunate enough not to be, literally, a part of the shrapnel that was now my car. Everything around me, in the driver’s seat, was completely crushed. The passenger and back seats were all gone with out an inkling of a trace. When I came to once more, I remember one of the officers telling me that I had been in an accident, and they were trying to get me out of the car. I asked him if I was going to die; he replied “I don’t know.” The adrenaline was still flowing through my body, in abundance, so I didn’t freak out. I just went into a very deep sleep.
I regained consciousness again, being rolled on a gurney, into the hospital, radios blared, doctors were shouting bloody murder, to get a room ready for emergency surgery, I could hear my parents crying uncontrollably, and my sheets were red; as I recall hospitals had white sheets and were supposed to be clean; looking more closely, I realized it was my blood. One memory I will always have, is the doctor telling my parents to get my funeral arrangements in line, as I would more than likely not make it through the night. I remember looking at the doctor and not being able to speak. My jaw had been broken in six places. I wanted to scream and tell him that I was not gone yet. By only God’s grace I made it through the night. I had my jaw broken in six places, two shattered femurs, two shattered knees, missing teeth, and both my feet were facing the opposite direction that they should be facing; they were broken too.
I had never had a surgery in my life, and that morning had more than eight of them. I was in ICU for over two weeks and had pins through both my ankles and knees, to keep my legs in traction. I could not walk, or fend for myself; people had to help me shower, use the bathroom, and get in and out of bed – I had gone back to my infancy. It is amazing the simple things that we take for granted; believe me, I do not anymore. I had my jaw wired shut for eight and a half weeks, eating, really slurping, through a straw. It took me right under a year, of physical therapy, to learn to walk again, with out the use of any aid, but still walking in pain. The man, who hit me, by witness and police account, veered off into my lane, driving without his headlights on, and hit me head on at about 75 miles an hour. Later, after the man’s autopsy was performed, it was found that he was more than eight times over the legal Blood Alcohol Concentration limit. He had been drinking, at a local bar in Brownsville, and heading to the Island to get capped off. I wish I could have had the chance to ask this man if the drink was worth it. To all of you out there who have ever drank and drove, is it worth it? Even if you think you are totally in control of your abilities, ‘after a few’, is it worth the risk? I am telling you the first-hand story, as it happened; a lot of victims of those who drove drunk are not so fortunate.
I am the lucky one.

Pronto Insurance headquartered in Brownsville, Texas provides quality insurance at a fair price for all Texans. Now with over 70 locations state wide and inside select HEB locations in the Rio Grande Valley, Laredo, Corpus Christi, San Antonio and Houston.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Off the Road Again

Arnie Gonzalez, Jr.

Pronto Insurance Marketing Department


With the song School’s out for Summer, by Alice Cooper, blazing in the forefront of every student’s mind, that has seen the movie Dazed and Confused, and every teacher that remembers what it was like to be a student in the 70’s, it is now June, and summer is here. The bags have been packed, for weeks, in anticipation, for this date, and the only thing to do now, is hit the open road with friends and family for the next two and a half months. For those of us, like me, who do not have the two and a half months off, for summer, we beg for our two weeks and head out as well. A lot of people fly to their destinations, but there are still quite a few that still love the adventure of the open road that brings the sense of liberation and adventure of the unknown; the road becomes a notebook to fill with the memories of family and friends that can never be replaced.

I am pretty sure you can remember being cramped, in the car, with your brothers or sisters; the trip started fine, everyone was in a great mood, but after two or three hours, maybe less, World War Three started. One of the siblings was screaming, at the top of their lungs, veins on the side of the neck ready to burst, that they had to go to the bathroom, right when you pass a sign that read: Next Bathroom 1,200 Miles. You could not stand each other, Mom was threatening to turn the car around, Dad had turned into Mr. Hyde, and there were still eighteen more hours to go. I loved it. Those were the memories that became today’s embarrassing stories, twenty years later, at the Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas dinners, and every other family gathering that you could ever think of.

God forbid that you got a flat tire, or the car broke down on the side of the road. That is where we, Pronto Insurance, come in with our Road Side Assistance. Being a family oriented company, we want to make sure your memories aren’t tainted with the bad experience and feelings of helplessness in an unfamiliar area. The days of those National Lampoon’s Vacation walks across the desert, to get to a payphone, are over; Pronto Insurance offers a variety of protections, under the Roadside Assistance umbrella, to make you feel safer, on the road.

Pronto Roadside Assistance is available 24 hours a day, and 7 days a week; it offers services such as tire changes, fuel delivery, towing, lockout assistance, Jump Starts, and Concierge Service. You can also get discounts on car rentals and hotels, and take advantage of our Custom Trip Routing, with a ten day advance notice. If you ever find yourself without fuel, in need of a tow truck, with a nail in the tire, with a dead battery, or locked out of your car, Pronto Insurance will be there DEVOLADA, 24 hours a day, and 7 days a week; the worry has been taken out of road trips. We can even help you with the information needed to reserve hotels, book car rental services, maps, trip itineraries, and most information that would make the trip planning a little bit easier.

For more detailed information on each service that our Roadside Assistance provides, go to prontoinsurance.com and or call 1-888-DEVOLADA (388-6525). It is the dawn of the worry-free traveling age; get on the road!

Pronto Insurance headquartered in Brownsville, Texas, provides quality insurance at a fair price for all Texans. Now with over 68 locations, state wide, and inside select HEB locations, in the Rio Grande Valley, Laredo, San Antonio and Houston.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Car Seats: An Option or Necessity?

Arnie Gonzalez, Jr./ Pronto Insurance Marketing Department

Walking, in a rush, almost running, you are fighting that sixth grader still deep inside that is afraid of getting in trouble for running down the hall, you make your way down the hallways of the local hospital; the journey, through the almost overwhelming scent of Clorox and Fabuloso, has been made and your significant other, lying on the hospital bed, screaming in a near exorcistic state, is found. After much reflection you make your way into the room, and somewhere just beyond all this madness, the clouds finally subside; an angel is born.
Holding your child for the first time, you grip them for dear life and try to protect them from all the bad in the world, nearly suffocating them. All the negative thoughts of the nine months of nausea, dizziness, weird cravings for peanut butter with pickles, and your child’s late night Tae Bo sessions on your stomach disappear in the blink of an eye; you have created a miracle. Since the first seconds of life, they have begun to trust you, even though they are not able to verbalize it, they do. This child, in your arms, has become your responsibility.
Where do all those feelings of joy, love, and longing to protect your flesh and blood, against all odds, go when a parent decides to transport their infant and or toddler, in a vehicle, not protected with a proper car seat, or one at all? It is unfathomable.
All of the 50 states require that children up to 18 months ride secured in car seats, and most have laws requiring them until the child is at least 3 years old. Studies have shown that children who don't ride in car seats are four times more likely to be seriously injured in a car crash, even in a parking lot fender bender. If that isn’t sufficient, down this: In 2000, 248,000 kids in the United States were injured in auto accidents and 1,668 children died as a result. Most of the children that became the fatalities-stat were not properly restrained, which means that car seats could have prevented many of their deaths. Many may think these deaths were a result of accidents of a catastrophic nature, but most were wrecks a few miles from home and at an average speed of 40mph or less.
There are many programs, which have classes to teach new parents on how to properly restrain their child in a vehicle, and that give information on ‘Inspection Stations,’ around your community. One local non-profit organization that offers programs such as those is the Tip of Texas Family Out Reach Center; they are located at 455 E. Levee. St., in Brownsville, Texas. Their phone number is 956-541-5566. Please keep your children in mind, when deciding whether to spend the $50-$60 for a car seat; are they worth it? For more information on the different types of car seats available and for the nearest inspection stations near you, please contact the following:

• Graco Children's Products
150 Oaklands Blvd.
Exton, PA 19341

• Britax Child Safety, Inc.
460-R Greenway Industrial Dr.
Fort Mill, SC 29708

Cosco Consumer Relations
P.O. Box 2609
Columbus, IN 47202

• Evenflo
Evenflo Juvenile Furniture Co.
1801 Commerce Dr.
Piqua, OH 45356

• Fisher Price
636 Girard Ave.
East Aurora, NY 14052

• Kolcraft Products/Playskool
10832 NC Highway 211 East
Alberdeen, NC 28315

Pronto Insurance headquartered in Brownsville, Texas provides quality insurance at a fair price for all Texans. Now with over 68 locations state wide and inside select HEB locations in the Rio Grande Valley, Laredo, San Antonio and Houston.