Abrahamson & Uiterwyk, Florida personal injury attorneys, are proud to announce that Sona Patel, a student at the University of Michigan, is the 2015 recipient of a $1500 scholarship for her essay on Distracted Driving.
Ms. Patel is currently enrolled in the Ross BBA Program at the University of Michigan with a strong interest in finance and strategy. Her extracurricular activities include a Bollywood dance team, Michigan Manzil, being a member of the show committee for the Indian American Student Association as well as being an active member of Phi Gamma Nu, a co-ed professional business fraternity.
Sona, along with nearly one hundred other applicants, were asked to write an essay on the topic of distracted driving. Our desire was to help students with their educational goals while also raising awareness about the important issue of distracted driving. Ms. Patel wrote a very compelling essay that met, and exceeded, all of the criteria listed including statistics, personal accounts and thoughtful suggestions encouraging young people to avoid distracted driving. All essays were judged based on originality, style, grammar, and accuracy. A link to the scholarship announcement and criteria can be found here.
Here is Ms. Patel’s winning essay:
“The music blares throughout the car as you drive home from school with your little brother. This is the usual routine, but your two best friends are also in the car. You all have plans to go out on this warm Friday night. Your friends talk excitedly about the party: what they plan on wearing, who they’re trying to impress, and what the latest gossip is. Your little brother rolls his eyes as he shuffles through the song list. You are on the freeway, going a steady 70 miles per hour on the rightmost lane. You hear your personalized text tone for the boy you’re crushing on. Your friends know who it is and they eagerly ask you to see what he said. You unlock your phone and check the message. He said, “Will I be seeing you tonight? J” You scream with joy, as do your friends. Your brother is even more annoyed. You think of the perfect reply, not too friendly and not too flirty. You begin writing out the text before you forget it. “Yes, I hope we can—“ BOOM.
You wake up in the hospital with your parents by your side. Your mom is crying hysterically. One of your friends that was in the car walks into the room, and you ask her what happened. She says, “You hit a car that was merging onto the freeway from the right side. The collision point was…it was at the passenger seat, where your brother was sitting…” She says no more. You ask if your other friend is okay. “She will be okay. She was injured pretty badly, but the doctors were able to save her. Your brother, though…I’m so sorry.” She leaves the room, crying.
This accident was caused by distracted driving, which has become a serious problem among young drivers. By taking your eyes off of the road for more than five seconds, and for taking one hand off of the steering wheel, you put everyone in the car at risk. Distracted driving is more than just texting, however. It is any activity that you perform while driving such that it takes your attention away from the road. There are three components to distracted driving: visual, manual, and cognitive. Visual distractions occur when your eyes are off of the road, manual distractions are when your hands are off of the wheel, and cognitive distractions take your mind off of driving1. Cell phones are certainly a leading cause of distracted driving; the U.S. Department of Transportation revealed that 14% of all fatal crashes involving distracted drivers were caused by cell phone use. Overall, 10% of fatal crashes were caused by distracted driving in 20132. That amounts to 2,910 car crashes in one year!
I have experienced a car accident involving distracted driving. About two years ago, my mom was driving me to tennis practice. An oncoming driver was turning left, and he was on his phone. He made the turn too soon, and my mom swerved, but we still hit the car. Luckily, everyone made it out uninjured. However, the collision point was at the front-right area of our car, and I was sitting in the passenger seat. If my mom hadn’t swerved out of the way, the car would have hit me.
This may sound dramatic, but I saw my life flash before my eyes. Driving never seemed dangerous to me until that day. It made me realize how easily one little mistake can change someone’s life forever, or take away someone’s life. If I had any advice for today’s young drivers, I would say that distracted driving is simply not worth the risk. The text messages can wait, the snapchats can wait, and you can spare ten minutes to eat before you start driving the car. If you need a GPS or if you need to talk to someone on the phone, buy a cell phone dock for your car. It can make all the difference. Accidents always seemed like something that happens to other people, just something that you hear about in the news, but it can happen to you. It can take as little as one stupid text message to take someone’s life away. Don’t be that person. Practice safe driving and encourage others to do so as well.”
Congratulations from all of us at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk and best of luck in your academic pursuits!