Meet Grace, Our 2022 Scholarship Winner
Read Grace’s winning essay:
The day was December 25th, 2020, and that was the day I almost lost my life. My mom, my little sister, and I were on our way to our uncle’s house to celebrate Christmas and before leaving the house my sister pleaded with me to sit in my spot which was closer to the right door. I declined her offer. We prayed and set out on our journey. Halfway through the trip, I realized that my mom was the only one with her seat belt on. I put mine on and told my little sister to do the same. A funny video came up on my phone and I distracted my mom by showing her the video. She decided to make a turn while her attention was divided between my phone and the road. As she made the turn we got hit by a car causing multiple accidents. I had never felt so horrible in my life. After further investigation was made we found out that the other diver was also distracted by his phone when the accident took place. Thankfully no one was injured, but ever since that day, I made the decision never to be a distraction to a driver or to be a distracted driver.
Distracted driving is simply defined as any form of activity that takes a driver’s attention off the steering wheel. It could be a conversation, fondling with the stereo system, texting and driving, drinking while driving or driving under the influence, and so on. Texting while driving is the most common distraction, people argue that texting and driving only take your eyes off the road for a few seconds and they aren’t wrong but what they do not realize is that sending or reading a text can take your eyes off the road for 5 seconds which seems small but at 55 mph which is the average speed limit of an open highway, that is equivalent to driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. Distraction while driving increases your chances of crashing by 9 percent. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data states that roughly, nine people are killed and more than 1,000 injured daily in accidents in which at least one driver was distracted. Statistics also show that distracted driving was the reported cause of death of 3,450 people in 2016. An estimated 391,000 drivers were injured in distracted driving crashes in 2017. For comparison, there were 39,773 gun deaths in the United States in 2017. I do not support distracted driving because it risks the lives of the driver, the passengers, motorists, and also blameless pedestrians. I also know that you are not as alert as you think you are while participating in distracted driving as a study by the transport research laboratory found that texting while driving delays reaction times by 37%, while drinking to the legal limit delays reaction times by 13% making it more fatal than driving under the influence although they are both dangerous and can both claim lives and cause injuries. There are a lot of other disadvantages of driving while distracted such as possibly going to jail or having to pay a fine.
Given these reasons there definitely needs to be a change.
Leadership has always been by example and the only way to create a pathway for change is to be the change. Accidents are inevitable, it is simply a part of human nature but there is a way to reduce the chances of accidents such as practicing defensive driving. Defensive Driving is essentially driving in a manner that utilizes safe driving strategies to enable motorists to address identified hazards. My dad always tells me and my siblings to drive like we are the only sane drivers on the road. Make an active decision to keep your vision on the road at all times, avoid driving under the influence and also avoid situations that could cause you to do so. Learn about the safety regulation rules in your state and abide by them. You could also do little things like putting together your playlist, or putting your seat belt on before you begin driving. Taking all these precautionary measures can potentially save your life and someone else’s. Creating awareness can be a huge way to help reduce distracted driving. Unknowingly individuals around you can be a distraction so you could also educate your passengers about the dangers of distracted driving before getting on the road. There are also various programs that help educate drivers and their passengers about reducing the dangers of distracted driving you could enroll yourself into so as to enlighten yourself. Distracted driving awareness month is in April and you could use your platform to spread awareness and make a change you do not know whose life you could possibly be saving. I constantly educate my family and friends about safe driving and I also plan to make it a family tradition of mine to hold safe driving of utmost importance.
Dropping a habit can be really hard and seem less dangerous once it has been engaged in over a long period of time but remember that a goal can be reached no matter how long it may take. Try attaching a reminder to the wheel of your car or making a deal with a family member to keep each other accountable for safe driving. Try not to fall for any distractions and stick to your habits. If you feel confident enough try turning off your phone or putting it on silent during the duration of driving so you do not get distracted by a notification or a phone call. There are also apps you can use to deter you from texting and driving such as drive safe and safe, lifesaver, at&t drive mode, and many more. Safe driving can be practiced by everyone if they are willing. Ever since I was involved in a life-changing accident I have made a pact with myself to leave sooner, and drive slower so I can live longer. We can all be a monument for change. Remember change starts with you.