Abrahamson & Uiterwyk Announces Their July 2020 Distracted Driving Essay Winner

Christopher Francis is our 2020 distracted driving essay winner.

Christopher is a student at the Seminole State College of Florida.

Here is the winning essay:

My Friends Could Be the End of Me

As a 20-year-old black man in college, I deal with multiple pressures in life. I must deal with pressures such as: going to school full time, doing internships, being financially intelligent, taking care of my parents, taking care of the house, being recognized and taken seriously by American society, and other things in life that young adults might have to deal with.

However, because I take life seriously and try to be the best version of myself when it comes to school and other priorities, I make sure to make time for my friends (whom I love sincerely).

Even though I take life seriously in other areas, I realize that I do not take my life as serious when it comes to me putting my friends before myself, especially when I drive. Therefore, my friends are a huge distraction when I am a driver.

When I first got my driver’s license as a junior in high school, my parents knew that the biggest fear that they had with me driving was me going out and driving with my friends. I was the first person in my friend group with a license and a vehicle, so that meant that I would be everyone’s very own free personal Uber.

When I first got my vehicle (which was a hand-me-down 2004 Dodge Ram pickup truck), I did not think about gas or other limitations, I just wanted my freedom and ability to go places with my friends. Because my parents knew how much I could not wait to do stupid stuff with my friends, they first enrolled me into a “Defensive Driving” class so that I could understand the seriousness of driving and how to be an aware, safe driver.

So, I took the class and had to deal with scenarios on what it feels like to drive drunk, spin out of control, must make an emergency stop, deal with an obnoxious passenger, and other things, and I passed easily. My parents were happy with how serious I took the driving test, so they set me loose and I was out driving on my own.

Even though I passed that driving course, I still was unprepared to drive with my friends. My first guilty habit is using my phone while driving. Rather it is being on a phone call, texting, snapchatting, or facetiming, whenever my friends needed me to use my phone while driving, I would readily pick it up and use it while I am on the road. I would feel like I got the hang of driving and that it would get boring by only staring at the road the whole time, so I needed my phone to spice things up.

My second guilty habit is that when I am in the car with my friends, we tend to blast loud music and just be focused in our conversation rather than the road. My friends are fun people to be around, so we like to bang loud music or talk loud and sometimes it is hard to hear stuff around us or it can be hard for me to just focus on driving in general.

Lastly, I have had experiences with friends in which I was the driver, but they got drunk and I ended up having to be the Uber and babysitter at the same time. One thing I will never do is drink and drive, so I am usually always the designated driver if me and my friends go to a party, but that tends to also mean that I have to get them home safely and make sure they are fine during the car ride, even when they are throwing up all over the place or are just being really obnoxious. I realized that I would endure anything with my friends, but them being a distraction while driving is not something to take likely.

I have heard of many sad stories in which young drivers have died from distracted driving from bad habits that I have done myself but am lucky enough to be able to recognize and fix.

Throughout the years, I have put my phone on “Do Not Disturb” mode while I drive, I rarely blast my music at all in my car, and I go to less parties so that I do not have to deal with distracting, drunk passengers, which are strategies that I have enjoyed and have enabled me to become a safer driver. I love my friends to death, but I never would want them to be the death of me, so I have tried to put an end to my distracted driving habits and hope to influence others to do the same!

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