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Distracted Driving Risks

Name: Season Cotterell
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Grade: Junior
School: Western Governors University
Votes: 0

Season
Cotterell

Distracted
Driving Risks

The
first time I was ever in a car accident I was 14 years old. I was
sitting in the middle of row in a minivan. The roads were really bad
due to a very heavy rainstorm so we had pulled off the freeway to get
on safer side streets. We were on our way to see the broadway
performance of Phantom of the Opera and were good on time even though
we had slowed down due to the storm. We made sure and decreased our
distractions by turning off the radio, and slowed down our driving.
We were completely stopped at a red light and we watched as a large
truck did not even press on his brakes to slow down. We kept watching
and knowing there was nothing we could do and he hit us going 45
miles an hour on a street road, in bad weather. I immediately felt
serious problems in my back, the following weeks would result in a
lot of treatment and limited mobility. After that I could no longer
participate in track, and I missed out on dance and singing. I
struggled for almost two years with the problems this accident had
caused. When we asked the guy why he didn’t slow down he said he
was changing radio stations and never looked up. Though we had taken
precautions to drive safer I was injured as a result of someone else
choosing not to do the same. Since that time I have understood better
the risks we truly face when we drive while distracted. To help with
distracted driving drivers need to attend drivers education, take
needed precautions, and evaluate how they can decrease distractions
while driving.

My
story is not unique or that uncommon. In fact since the time of my
accident in the late 90’s we have only become more distracted while
we drive. At the time of my accident there were not cell phones
available, no one was texting, snap chatting, or instagramming while
driving. Distracted driving isn’t new, but it is increasing which
is one of the many reasons driver’s education is so important. In
2015 a study was done at the University of Nebraska. They followed
150,000 drivers over eight years, and found drivers education
significantly reduced incidents. In this study they found that “
young
drivers who have not completed driver’s education are 75 percent more
likely to get a traffic ticket, 24 percent more likely to be involved
in a fatal or injury accident and 16 percent more likely to have an
accident.” (1) One of the important things you are taught in
drivers ed is the risks of distracted driving. Without understanding
fully why it is so important and the risks you face it can be much
harder to find a reason to withhold from doing those behaviors.

There
are many ways we can become distracted on the road. We listen to
music and our favorite song comes on and we start the dance. We have
young children in the car who are screaming and crying. Your phone
rings and you see it is someone you want to talk to so you answer the
call. You see something new being built on the side of the road and
you want to catch a glimpse. You could also have something weighing
on your mind that you are thinking a lot about and not paying enough
attention to the road. You could be tired and your eyes keep closing
until you fall asleep at the wheel. Or you decide to take pictures
and text someone back that is texting you. I would say these are all
distractions we face while driving. The risks seem obvious we risk
getting in a car accident that injures us, or someone else. It can
even cost the loss of someone’s life. We all know the risks they
are not new but we do tend to ignore them. I think one of the reasons
we do that is because of all the times nothing happened. I answered
my phone and we were fine. I listened to my kids screaming and we
made it home safe. I picked up my phone and snapped a picture and
nothing happened. Here are a couple of statistics you may not know.
1
out of every 4 car accidents in the United States is caused by
texting and driving. Texting while driving is 6x more likely to cause
an accident than driving drunk. 390,000 injuries occur each year from
accidents caused by texting while driving” (2) Knowing the risks
helps us to consider the precautions we can take and then implement
them.

There
are many ways we can help ourselves to be less distracted when we
drive. The iphone has a feature where it automatically will turn off
cell phone use while driving. You can’t text, make or receive calls
until you finish your drive. We can decrease our distractions by
lowering our music, turning our phones completely off, and making
sure we are practicing safe driving practices. We can evaluate the
risks of distractions and then make choices to protect ourselves and
others while we driving. We can continue to evaluate ourselves and
ask ourselves what behaviors we are doing that is making each one of
us more at risk on the road. By asking these questions it can help us
to make smarter choices that will help us decrease distractions while
driving.

I
have always been a little grateful for the experience I had getting
injured at 14. I experienced that before I was ever behind the wheel
of a car driving myself. I understand how dangerous distracted
driving can be to myself and others. I can’t say I am a perfect
driver but I have worked hard to keep away distractions that pose
risks. I have been able to be accident free for twenty years now and
I hope to continue that. We can all drive safer on the roads by
attending drivers ed, taking needed precautions, then evaluating and
implementing safe driving practices.

References:

  1. Reed,
    Leslie. “Study: Driver’s Ed Significantly Reduces Teen Crashes,
    Tickets.”
    Study:
    Driver’s Ed Significantly Reduces Teen Crashes, Tickets | News
    Releases | University of Nebraska-Lincoln
    ,
    13 Aug. 2015, newsroom.unl.edu/releases/2015/08/13/Study: Driver’s
    ed significantly reduces teen crashes, tickets.

  2. Texting
    and Driving Accident Statistics – Distracted Driving.”
    Edgarsnyder.com,
    www.edgarsnyder.com/car-accident/cause-of-accident/cell-phone/cell-phone-statistics.html.