In the fight against texting and driving, teenagers are on the front lines. Public and private organizations have spent millions of dollars to arm them with facts about the dangers of texting and driving.
I’m passionate about making a difference so my firm and I created an annual scholarship contest to Stop Texting and Driving. Instead of telling teens why they shouldn’t text and drive, we decided to ask them how they would make a difference. We asked them:
“If you had to convince just one friend not to text and drive, what would you say?”
Sarah Keil is the winner of the Davidson County Stop Texting and Driving Scholarship. Sarah attended Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School in Nashville and will be attending the University of Tennessee Knoxville this fall.
As Sarah points out, texting and driving has risen to epidemic proportions in our country. Her answer to convincing a friend to not text and drive includes some facts and a story of personal experience. But most of all, it’s a personal appeal to a friend. Sarah reminds us all how we can make a difference: one person at a time.
You’re my friend and I don’t want anything to happen to you. Please… don’t text and drive.
Your life is much more important than responding to one text. Being able to be present and alive for your friends and family means more than texting someone back immediately.
We both know that texting while driving has become a serious epidemic. As teenage drivers, we’ve heard all the facts:
1) The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2012, driver distraction was the cause of 18 percent of all fatal crashes. Due to increasing use of cell phones and other electronic devices, this percentage is likely to have risen over the past three years.
2) Seventy seven percent of young adults are very or somewhat confident that they can safely text while driving.
3) Fifty five percent of young adult drivers claim it’s easy to text while they drive.
Some teens may think they’ve mastered texting while driving, but the stats say that teens who text spend approximately ten percent of their time driving outside of their lane.
If hearing the facts aren’t enough, I’ve experienced firsthand what texting can do to me while driving.
Back when I first got my license, I took driver’s education. One of the activities was a very realistic simulated driving test on a computer. During one of these sessions, the teacher had us send a text while trying to drive.
It was extremely difficult. I had no idea where I was going and I ended up driving out of my lane while texting. That made an impression on me that I still have today.
Driving requires your full attention due to the various stimuli all happening at once. Texting while driving takes away one of the most important senses needed for driving: eyesight.
Looking away from the road to a text can cause a driver to miss crucial information. Whether it’s a car in front of you that slams on their brakes or an animal crossing the road, it only takes a few seconds for a distraction to lead to tragedy.
You’ve got to remember, texting and driving doesn’t just affect you. It can also change the lives of innocent drivers and pedestrians.
While driving, I’ve had to take defensive action to protect myself from people texting on their phones. What would have happened if I was reading a text at the same time as they were coming at me? I might have been seriously injured or worse.
I know what you’re thinking. What should you do if you just can’t wait? If you have a passenger, have them send the text instead. I will often send texts for my friends and family while they are driving. This ensures that you are still able to communicate, without putting any of our lives in danger. If there is not a passenger in the car, you can pull over to the side of the road and send texts.
In cases of high importance, you can make a short phone call. At least you will not be completely distracted from the road. Getting in touch with people immediately or as soon as possible is becoming a norm for our society. However, risking your own life or the lives of others will never be as important as responding to a text immediately.
While technology has become an important part of our day to day lives, resisting the urge to look at your phone while driving can save many lives. A good way to avoid the temptation of texting while driving is to simply turn your phone off while you’re in the car. If the thought of turning off your phone is too frightening, put the phone on silent, or do not disturb. You won’t be able to hear or see the notifications and you won’t be distracted.
I make it a personal goal to never text and drive. I care about my safety and the safety of others too much to put lives in danger for a text that could be sent when I had safely arrived at my destination.
So please, just don’t text and drive.