Abrahamson & Uiterwyk Scholarship Announces 2016 Distracted Driving Essay Contest Winner

Issac Boulter picture
Issac Boulter, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, ’19

Abrahamson & Uiterwyk, Florida personal injury attorneys, are proud to announce that R. Isaac Boulter, a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is the 2016 recipient of a $1500 scholarship for his essay on Distracted Driving.

 

Mr. Boulter is currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Music program for piano performance as well as the Bachelor of Arts program for Russian Language and Culture at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. He has hopes of becoming fluent in Russian language so that he can study in country.

Isaac, 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. Mr. Boulter 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.

Congratulations from all of us at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk and best of luck in your academic pursuits!

Here is the winning essay:

Risk Management

Written by: R. Isaac Boulter

 My girlfriend is an excellent driver. She has been driving for nearly five years; she started as early as possible. For her it was a vital source of independence, and much of her high school life centered around it: her job, to pay for gas; her social life, which depended on her mobility; and even school, to which she drove herself every day for two years.

Now, in our first year of college, she drives herself from our home in Burnsville, North Carolina, to NC State University in Raleigh and back. She visits me at UNC Chapel Hill. She has spent a lot of time behind the wheel, and overall there are not a lot of people our age whom I know that are as experienced as she.

My girlfriend also has a habit of driving while distracted. She is all too willing to check her phone, answer texts, put on music. When I express discomfort she points out that she is a very good driver, and that she does this all the time. Both of these statements are true, and she has never been in an accident… so why do I still feel a vague dread whenever her eyes leave the road for her screen?

When I was thirteen, my family took a camping trip across the American Southwest, and among the many places we visited was Arches National Park.

I took great pleasure in clambering over the red Utah rocks, much to the displeasure of my mother. As the day progressed so did my aspirations, and by the time we came to the Double Arch I was in full rock­climber mode.

My mother heard me call for her to “look where I am!” and turned to see me many, many feet above the floor of the cavern, and her gasp, along with those of dozens of other tourists, let me know that I should most likely climb down.

As we walked back to the car, I was sullen and embarrassed, and quite unwilling to hear Mom’s chastisement. As she walked on in exasperation, my dad caught up with me to try a different tack. He explained to me how scared Mom had been by seeing me up that high, because she was worried I might fall. I scoffed; it had been a really easy climb. The chances of my falling were minuscule. I was surprised to hear him agree, and then he said something to me that I never forgot.

“It’s not that we doubt your ability to climb up those rocks, son. It’s just that the penalty for failure is so, so much higher.”

 I’ve thought about that ever since; that the risk of something determines how willing one might be to do it, regardless of difficulty. Many of us have this risk management skill instinctually; our willingness to approach the pinnacle of a two­foot high wall is often much greater than our willingness to approach that of a thirty­foot one. The probability that you will fall is not increased by the height of the wall, but the consequences of falling from thirty feet are a great deal more final.

Would a parent be so willing to let her children leap from couch to carpet to chair, if the floor were actually covered in boiling lava? Nothing has changed except the severity of what happens if the child missteps or mistimes a leap.

I firmly believe this idea applies to other aspects of our lives where the results of our actions are less immediate in our conscience. A thirty­ foot fall is easily imagined when standing on the brink; a fatal accident when sitting behind the wheel, less so.

The American Center for Disease Control states that “texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction[: visual, manual, and cognitive]”1, meaning that it takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, and your mind off the task of driving. Even if you are usually able to multitask in that fashion, the penalty for the smallest mistake can be severe, even permanent.

According to the Disaster Center’s Motor Vehicle Accident Death and Injury Data Index, “about half of property damage accidents result in injuries or fatalities.”2 About half. Nearly 50%.

In essence, a coin toss. I wouldn’t like those odds for something trivial. For something as serious as life and death? There’s a chance that I might come out alive, even unscathed. But is it worth the risk?”