Meet Darinka, our 2019 Scholarship Winner!
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College Attending: Metropolitan State University of Denver for Criminal Justice
Darinka’s Winning Essay:
I never knew texting and driving would be the reason of my worst memory. In 2017, I began driving myself everywhere; enjoying my almost adulthood. Having a major responsibility made me view life differently since I wasn’t a child anymore. The first lecture my mom gave me was about texting and driving and how it can ruin someone’s life in a matter of seconds. I never thought texting and driving could be so dangerous because I believed it was over exaggerated. I ignored my mom’s words with no hesitation and began my “adventure” on my own. My selfishness got to me and left my responsibility and cautiousness at home when I needed it the most. I thought to myself “What can be the worst thing to happen to me or others while texting and driving?” That question was soon to be answered.
January 2017, just a week after I started driving. My best friend and I made plans to go eat after he got done going to this car event. It was a beautiful sunday afternoon with so many things going on all at once. Few hours passed, and I never received a phone call or text message of him saying he was on his way. The night came and I decided to go to sleep since I had school in the morning. The next day, I looked everywhere for him but there was no sign of him. Lunch time came, and I sat in front of the front office with my friends. While gossiping with my friends, few of my classmates went rushing to the front office saying someone got into a car crash and passed away. I immediately started assuming it was my best friend. I messaged him and I saw that he wasn’t active for 17 hours and that was unusual of him because I would always get a good morning text from him. I prayed to god that it wasn’t him. Next thing you know, I received a text message from my friend telling me that he was the one that got into the car crash. I asked myself how could this happen? Why so soon? But that made me realize my mom was absolutely right about texting and driving. My best friend lost his life at a young age because another driver decided to text while she was driving.
All the plans we had for each other were taken away from us in a matter of seconds. His death made me realize that if I text and drive, I can cause someone else the pain the other driver caused me. Ever since the car crash happened I began to take more responsibility while driving because you never know when it can be your turn. 2 years have passed and I still think about emotions surrounding me and the thought I was never going to see him again. I wouldn’t wish this pain upon anybody else because it’s a pain you’re never going to get rid of.
Before I drive, I make sure there is no important texts or calls that I have to answer to so I won’t get distracted. If there is an emergency and a family member is calling me or texting me, I make sure to pull over to a legal spot to answer it. There has been times when I have been on a highway and I get notified with an important text. The best decision you can make is pull over to the nearest gas station and answer it. If the text message or call isn’t important it can wait. Another way you can prevent texting and driving is by getting bluetooth on your radio system so you can answer phone calls with a button on your steering wheel. Bluetooth can be very handy and not expensive.
In addition, if you have someone with you while you are driving and you are receiving a phone call, you should let them answer the phone for you. My friends and I do that occasionally because it doesn’t distract the driver and you aren’t putting your life in danger. However, when the driver receives a text, the passenger usually reads the text out loud for the driver. The driver listens to the passenger and tells that individual what to type for them. This helps a lot because there isn’t a lot of distraction going on and the driver is still looking at the road without looking back and forth. A lot of people might think that the brightness of the screen doesn’t matter. Surprisingly, it matters a lot including at night. There has been times when it’s night and my phone gets a notification causing it to light up. The light can cause for you to dazzle/blind you in the middle of the road and it can cause a major car accident. There are multiple ways on your phone that you can turn off the brightness and they are always on your settings/ adjustments.
A simple step you can do to not text and drive is put your phone on “Do Not Disturb” mode. You can turn it on and off easily and this mode prevents you from getting notified on the text messages and phone calls you receive. It can be super useful because it does not damage your phone and it’s meant for you to not get distracted. There is multiple ways to prevent getting distracted while driving. If you are a distracted driver occasionally I would suggest trying music that isn’t so distracting and more calming. Calm music can take away your anxiety and your fears because you are mostly focused on the beat. Becoming a driver takes a lot of responsibility because you are putting your life and other peoples life at risk. Racing, speeding, and skipping red lights is not a responsible thing to do. Being cautious of your surroundings is an important task to accomplish and a important reminder for yourself while driving. People’s lives matter and so does yours.