Youth Forward Scholarship 2019 – Driver Safety Reform

Name: Tamaranpreye Amughan
From: Buckeye , Arizona
Grade: Junior
School: Verrado High School
Votes: 0

It
is Wednesday afternoon. I am sitting in my final class period before
the school day ends. The silence of the room is interrupted by an
announcement over the PA system.

Tamaranpreye
Amughan, please come to the Front Office.”

My
heart jumps. I could feel the blood rush to my face, hearing my
classmates snicker as I packed my bag to leave. I was conscious of
every step I took to the front office, thinking of every possible
scenario to why I was summoned; I, however, was not prepared for what
they had to say to me.

I
opened the door and was greeted by the guidance counselor, who rushed
me into her room.

After
a long pause, the guidance counselor spoke.

Your
mother has been in a car accident”

My
ears rang. I could see her mouth move but I was flooded with
emotions. While in my daze, the counselor continued:

Is
someone able to take you home?”

I
didn’t know what to think or say. I just quietly sat there until I
ask to be excused. After I left, I called my dad. He doesn’t pick
up. I called again and after a couple more missed calls, I thought to
myself “was he in the accident too?” Finally, I hear the phone
pick up.

Daddy?”
I said and heard his voice. Immediately all my feelings came bubbling
up to the surface.

Your
mom was rear-ended,” he said. “The car is totaled. Your mom is in
the hospital, but she’ll be alright.”

How
did this happen?” I say exasperated.

She
was rear-ended by a teenager,” my dad said. “He was texting while
getting to the intersection and hit your mother”.

I
am shaking, but I’m relieved at this point. My mind then suddenly
fills with vignettes of all the advertisements I have seen on
television and billboards. “Don’t text and drive,” being said
by a celebrity spokesperson, or a dramatization of someone texting
and driving. Even though I watched all of these, I never made the
connection that this could ever happen to me or my family.

My
mom’s back was compacted, and she had to relearn how to walk
through physical therapy. I am thankful that my mom was able to
recover though she still has pain after strenuous physical exertions.

While
there are numerous social media campaigns and efforts to reduce
distracted drivers, it remains at an all-time high. We live in an
instant world, where Siri readily answers my questions, and
notifications ring bright red every second. Scientists have found
research that links brain stimuli from app notifications to Pavlovian
responses. I vowed to practice safe driving because I have seen its
impact, but people should not have to experience a traumatic incident
to understand the consequences of distracted driving.

So
how do we address the issue? I firmly believe we need to change our
focus and rethink our strategy to be more proactive. The current
anti-texting-and-driving campaigns tell us to completely put our
phones away and solely focus on driving. These campaigns scare us
with graphic images and “last messages” from the driver before
causing an accident. However, they neglect to address that our phones
are essential to the driving experience. Our phones navigate us, play
our favorite songs, and keep us in contact with our loved ones while
we share estimated times of arrival.

We
need campaigns that educate teenagers on how to safely use their
phones versus completely abstaining from phone use while driving. We
need safe driving practices and programs that teach people to only
use their phone when the car is not in motion, to utilize hoisters
that adequately display the phone for GPS, to pull over when
necessary, or to utilize Bluetooth and hands-free technologies if
vehicle-equipped. We need to share practices on how to practice safe
driving and hopefully, by doing so, in the future, the teenager who
had hit my mom would remember these methods to get directions or send
his friends a message safely without the threat of colliding into
others.


Join our Facebook group "Volunteers for a Better World".