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2023 Driver Education Round 1 – Distracted Driving: The Silent Killer

Name: Gabriella Barraza
From: Tallahassee, Florida
Votes: 60

Distracted Driving: The Silent Killer

They’re going to hit us!”

The car slams into the rear of the white Honda, and with both cars going 70 miles per hour down the highway, the honda goes flying. The car vaults into the air and flips over three times, before finally settling upright on the side of the road. Debris littered the surrounding ground, both cars were totaled and viciously destroyed. Passersby immediately pulled over to run to the aid of the victims, praying the damage was minimal. Once approached, one couple sat in the vaulted car, visibly shaken, distraught, and terrified. The woman was screaming as blood gushed from her arms, and her husband sat with his head in his hands as he was almost brought to tears. A baby seat was strapped to the back seat, and a toddler chair was in the adjacent seat, however the couple had decided not to bring their kids along on their ride today. Ambulances arrived to take the couple to the hospital, who were fortunately not in dire shape but damaged from the crash. This couple was my parents, approximately 16 years ago.

While I was too young to remember the crash my parents were in when I was a toddler, I grew up with the trauma that came afterward. My mom’s arm was able to fully recover however her elbow suffered a gnarly scar spanning about six inches wide. While my dad luckily had no physical remembrance, the mental scars can still be seen today. Being in a gruesome accident caused my parents to be extremely anxious about driving, and I grew up to be scared of the activity. The terrible story of my parents’ crash – the very car I was supposed to be in that day – terrified me once I started driving and it took a lot of effort to become comfortable in a car. Even so, it took months before my dad allowed me to drive anywhere near a highway. Had the fellow driver that crashed into my parent’s car been more focused on the road in front of him, and less on his phone, then my parents would not have been almost killed in an accident and my family wouldn’t be experiencing the effects of that accident years later.

Although I wish my parents had never suffered through something as horrible as a car accident, it has allowed me to be particularly conscious about my driving habits and the dangers of the road. Particularly, texting and driving. The story my parents have described to me has instilled a determination in me to never use a phone while driving and to limit distracted driving completely. I follow personal rules such as never going on my phone, not eating and driving, making sure myself and everyone in the car are wearing a seatbelt, and following all traffic laws with a safe distance between other cars. However, one cannot help always being safe if in the passenger seat, therefore I have made it a point that my friends, and everyone I drive with practice safe driving. The dangers of distracted driving are extreme, and it is reported that thousands of deaths and injuries are caused by distracted driving. That is why it is essential that safe driving education is taught from a young age and legally enforced everywhere.

I believe lawmakers can make very important steps towards reducing the number of deaths while driving, such as having safe driving required and taught in school at the age a teen begins to drive. Then we as a society can reduce the number of accidents caused by unsafe driving. As someone who went through the process of acquiring a license and taking driving courses, I know that safe driving is not taught enough and the consequences of not participating are not emphasized as much as they should be. I see my fellow drivers posting on social media as they drive or texting others and I know that they do not mean to put everyone on the road’s lives at risk, but are just uneducated about what truly lies at stake. An obvious solution is requiring a mandatory class in school about safe driving and the dangers of using any technology while driving. Just like English and math are required for students to learn, why shouldn’t schools mandate safe driving courses as well? The only benefit is the safety of not only the students, but everyone else driving too.

While I know most people are confident in their driving abilities, or think they are great at multitasking while driving, doing anything except focusing on the road around you is extremely dangerous. Most don’t know the disastrous effects their distracted driving can cause, such as killing a family of four, or even themselves. Technology has become so easy to use, but that does not mean it is easy enough to do while driving. According to the National Safety Council, phones while driving lead to 1.6 million car crashes a year, meaning a huge number of potentially fatal crashes could be easily avoided. However, technology is so advanced that there are now settings in which individuals can essentially turn off their phones while driving. By having this setting turned on whilst driving, an individual is reducing the risk of driving and helping to save lives.

I know most people choose to drive distractedly every day, whether it be using their phones, eating while driving, or playing loud music in the car. I see it frequently with my friends, who haven’t had dangerous experiences on the road, and I’m forced to remind them what’s really at stake. I believe that education is a big factor in most people, and if everyone were to properly learn how to drive safely and what not to do, then we as a society could avoid tragic deaths and injuries. With education, we can utilize technology to limit ourselves while driving, thus reducing risk. 16 years ago I could have been made an orphan because of distracted driving. Luckily, I cherish every day with my family and make sure to educate my friends and family on how to drive safely. I mean really, why take the risk? There are so many wonderful things in life that should be experienced by everyone, and by driving safely, there is one less risk in life that can potentially keep you and everyone on the road around you from living to the fullest extent.