Abrahamson & Uiterwyk Announces Their July 2020 Distracted Driving Runner Up

Mason Ashford is one of our 2020 distracted driving essay runner ups.

Mason is a student at Florida State University.

Here is her essay:

Admit it to Quit it

Like anyone in the 21st century I am no stranger to distracted driving. Not only do I constantly see others doing it around me, I am a culprit of it myself. Most people think that distracted driving only entails directly looking at your phone while driving.

But it can be so much more than that. It can include talking on the phone, texting without looking, talking with other people in the car, eating while driving etc. Distracted driving is anytime you are not one hundred percent focused on the task of driving. It only takes a split second of distraction to result in serious injury or even death.

I have a fairly long drive from home in Atlanta to Florida State University. This drive by myself can get boring and I often find myself becoming a distracted driver the longer I drive. This usually comes in the form of eating while behind the wheel. It may not seem like that big of a deal, but it does require me to take one sometimes even two hands off the wheel just to eat.

A lot of times I’ll get foods that can actually be quite messy and are hard to eat in general but especially while driving. This element gives just another factor of distraction to my driving. Unfortunately, I have been in a few close calls where I almost caused an accident with someone else or just with myself by riding too close to the edge of the road. These moments in time seem to slow down and they are real wake up calls for me.

Anyone who has ever been in an accident or close to being in one understands the terror that runs through you. My biggest change to this bad habit will be strategizing my drive to include time to STOP and eat. If I plan for an extra 15 to 20 minutes into my drive to stop somewhere and eat in the parking lot, I am not losing time on my ETA and I am keeping myself and others on the road safe.

I think I often get stuck in the mindset that I need to get to my destination as quick as possible. This can be a very dangerous mindset while driving a two-ton vehicle. This means eating while driving because I think it might save me an extra 15 minutes. In reality saving those 15 minutes is not worth risking my life or the lives around me.

Another way I often find myself being a distracted driver is when I am driving my friends in the car. We often like to play our favorite songs at a loud volume and sing our hearts out. In the moment it can be a lot of fun to do that with my friends and it almost feels freeing. But it also means that I am focusing on the lyrics in the song and having fun more than I am about driving a car. It is way too easy to get lost in the fun of the moment and not realize the reality of what is happening in front of you.

I am in the marching band at FSU so for me music is and always has been an important aspect of my life. I like the way music makes me feel and I like sharing music with my friends. Given the nature of Bluetooth and AUX the sharing of this music is often done during car rides. I would be lying if I said I had not typed out a song I desperately wanted my friends to listen to while I drive. The way I would solve the first issue is to just turn the music down so that I am still able to easily focus on the drive.

If anyone complains and wants to turn the music up I just have to be firm and say “I am the driver, I decide how loud the music gets to be played so that I can keep us safe”. To solve the second issue is far simpler. If there is a song I want to share with friends I can either put it in the queue before I start driving or I can tell my friend the name of the song so that they can type it for me. There is no need for me to be touching the phone at all in this situation.

These situations are even more important to me than when I am in the car alone. The reason being is my friends mean everything to me and I would never want to be the cause of their hurt or death. Whether I like it or not, when I am behind the wheel, I am responsible for everyone in that car. I must be safe for them.

The older I get the more I seem to drive and the longer the drives tend to me. I also tend to think less about my driving the more I drive. I think this is very common. You almost get to a point where you are too comfortable behind the wheel and you forget just how dangerous driving by itself is. So why make it even more dangerous by being a distracted driver?

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