First Place 2019: Emily Mann

1st Place Photo_Emily Mann

Huntsville, AL

Senior at Huntsville High School, plans to attend University of North Alabama and pursue a degree in Business & Human Resources.

Distracted Driving Essay

“Distracted driving comes in many forms. Eating, talking to passengers, having your music up too loud, and texting are just a few of these. According to a study done by the National Safety Council, cell phone use while driving causes around 1.6 million car crashes and nearly 390,000 injuries each year. They have said that in 2016, two hundred and sixty-three teenagers aged fifteen to nineteen were killed due to distracted driving. Think to yourself next time you go to grab your phone while driving, “is it really worth someone’s life?”

In April 2016, a friend of mine and a classmate were in a distracted driving related accident. A girl and her boyfriend, my friend, went out one night. On their way back home, he got a text from a friend of his and decided to answer it himself while driving down the road. Not too long after picking up his phone, they struck a tree head on leaving them both dead. He was dead on the scene and she was ejected from the car, as result of not wearing her seatbelt, and died after her family had to make the heart-wrenching decision of take her off life support after a litter over a week. That is just one example of how one text can kill two people in a matter of seconds. Had there been other cars on the road, who knows what could have happened, even more people could have died all because he wanted to answer his friend. Having to attend a funeral for two teenagers was devastating and the reason why I will not text and drive.

In the society in which we live, almost everyone is addicted to their cell phones. However, cell phone makers provide us with many ways to stay off our phones while driving. Apple has a system in place where if you change one setting on your phone, as soon as it detects that you are in a vehicle, driving or not, it will turn your phone on do not disturb so that you do not get distracted by the sound of a text coming in. If you need to you can even power off your phone or put it completely out of sight such as in your trunk, center console, back seat, glove box, or many other places in your car. If you feel that taking the call or responding to a text is so important you can always just pull over into a parking lot and respond to the call or text.

There could be many more ways to prevent or help lessen distracted driving. More programs could be set in place with the police department. The average ticket cost for someone who is a first-time offender for texting and driving in the state of Alabama is only twenty-five dollars. One of my friends recently got pulled over for going ten miles an hour over the posted speed limit and her ticket was eight times that amount. The fact that something in which kills hundreds of thousands of people a year only costs a slim twenty-five dollars whereas speeding, which is not any safer or more dangerous, costs around two hundred is honestly quite ridiculous.

If the ticket cost or consequences of texting or being on your phone while driving were higher, maybe less people would do it putting their life and others lives in jeopardy. How many more people are going to have to lose their lives for us to make a legitimate change in the legal system for texting and driving?

I put up a poll on my Instagram story for twenty-four hours and asked for my followers to honestly tell me if they regularly text and drive whether it be every time they drive or once a week. My poll revealed that of my 1,584 Instagram followers, only 300 of them voted on my poll and of that amount 68% of those people have admitted to texting and driving on a regular basis. It is a frightening thing to see how many of my closest friends, who I ride with on a weekly basis, text and drive so regularly. One day it could be one of us who gets in a fatal wreck. However, teenagers are not the only one’s guilty of doing this. Everyday on my way to and from school and work I pass so many people, teenagers and adults, texting and driving. It is a scary thing to see someone driving next to or behind you and see them so distracted by what’s going on with their phone that they are not even paying attention to the road ahead of them, having any concern for the lives going on around them, and arriving to their location safely. Someone could be on their way to meet their soul mate and one text, one phone call, one status update could destroy everything for you and the other people around you.

According to Walk Up Law Office, in 2015, there were 391,000 injuries and 3,477 deaths. Distracted driving causes more than 58% of teen car crashes. Car accidents are the number one cause of death in teenagers 15-19. If there were systems in place like signal blockers in cars that cancelled the cell service when your car is in motion, that would seriously eliminate most of these deaths. I would love to see a world where we did not have distracted drivers on the roads. It makes me nervous for whenever I have children of my own driving on the roads if we still have this epidemic. I can really understand after all this research on this issue why my parents always get so nervous and bent out of shape when I do not tell them when I have gotten to my location safely.

In the United States, cell phone use and distracted driving is such an epidemic. We as a country need more systems implemented to stop distracted driving. Hopefully, within the next ten years, we can have texting and driving demolished. Too many people have died from this, how many more will it take? “