Melanie Mooney is a high school senior in Munster Indiana, who enjoys running in cross-country and track events. Melanie is also a member of her school’s Student Government, Speech, and HOSA (Health Occupation Students of America) team, and plans to attend Purdue University West Lafayette, majoring in Biology with a goal of becoming a veterinarian.
Melanie, along with hundreds of other applicants, were asked to create and submit a “Safety Contract”, together with an essay on Distracted Driving, an unfortunate consequence of our modern society. Abrahamson & Uiterwyk received a record number of submissions in our semi-annual scholarship contest, and choosing a winner was not easy! Congratulations from all of us at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk and best of luck in your academic pursuits!
Here is the winning essay:
Distracted Driving Essay and BE SMART
Family Safety Plan
Written By: Melanie Mooney
“I’m a teenage girl. My BFF Becky texts me and says she’s kissed Johnny. Well, that’s a problem because I like Johnny. Now, I am emotionally compromising (swerve)…Whoops.” This quotation from Allstate’s Mayhem driving commercial presents a semi-comical scenario persuading customers to purchase Allstate Insurance; however, this commercial alludes to more than just the importance of having high-quality insurance. It presents a far more encompassing issue that nations all around the world face today: distracted driving.
If one person was injured every second for approximately five consecutive days, it would be equivalent to the amount of people injured each year from distracted drivers. That is over 421,000 injured people each year, all stemming from distractions as small as changing the radio station from an overplayed song that just cannot be heard again, to larger circumstances, such as putting on makeup using the visor mirror above the driver’s seat. Distracted driving is defined as any action that diverts a driver’s focus from their driving responsibilities. These actions delve deeper than texting or talking on the phone, such as eating, changing a radio station or song, applying cosmetics, singing or dancing, taking layers of clothes off, browsing out the window, or dozing off to sleep.
Although future generations will add to the list of physical driving distractions, it is important to note that there are several subconscious distractions as well. In an endlessly busy society, people can never fully isolate the task at hand without worrying about something else. Often times, I experience this driving distraction first hand. On my way to school, I find myself worrying about important exams that day, if I remembered to grab everything I need, and of course, the critical question of whether I would beat some traffic and arrive on time. I never used to realize myself doing this, and although I have never been in an accident because of it, I put myself at greater risk every time I do it. I know that these thoughts and worries certainly steal away my focus equally as much as a cell phone would; thus, in order to become a more focused driver, I will have to put off the worrying until I actually arrive at school.
Once the causes of distracted driving are identified, avoiding the act should be the easy part. But in reality, it is something that is only mastered with practice. I believe the first step in truly ending distracted driving is realizing what one has to lose. Imagine how your life and others’ lives would be affected if you hurt yourself or another person. The second step is practice, whether it be putting your phone in the backseat to avoid using it, changing the radio only when the car is not in motion, or for me, waking up ten minutes earlier each morning to organize and plan my day in order to clear my mind of all distractions. The final step to avoid distracted driving is to know yourself. For example, if you pulled an all-nighter, your favorite pet just passed away, or you just found out your BFF Becky kissed your lifelong crush Johnny, save your life and those around you by containing your emotions and abstaining from driving until your mind is focused solely on your driving.
Melanie’s BE SMART Distracted Driving Family Plan
Physical distractions last at least three seconds, while mental distractions can last up to 27 seconds. I pledge to BE SMART and be distracted for 0 seconds.