EDITOR’S NOTE: The following editorials were selected as top entries in Three Rivers Publishing's local writing contest about the “It Can Wait” campaign and the dangers of distracted driving. Entries from Bourbon, Cuba, St. James and Steelville high schools were blindly judged by Publisher Rob Viehman and the top entry from each school was selected. The four finalists, whose names were not revealed to Viehman until he had selected the winner, included Alyssa Forbes, of Steelville, Jaclyn Montgomery, of Cuba, Cheyenne Breeding, of Bourbon, and Caleb Jones, of St. James. Forbes was selected as the overall winner, but all four finalists will be forwarded to the statewide contest, to be judged by the Missouri Press Association.
Texting and Driving: A Danger to Everyone
By Alyssa Forbes
Steelville High School
How would you feel if you were responsible for someone’s life-long injuries or even a person’s death? Sure, people who text and drive don’t intend to harm anyone, but studies show that text messaging while a vehicle is in motion makes a driver 23 times more likely to have a car accident.
Today’s teenagers are notorious for being overly confident behind the wheel. Whether they are attempting to show off or make others think they are a skilled driver, there is nothing “cool” about putting lives in danger. Young drivers are not as experienced as they like to think they are, and are definitely not skilled enough to take their eyes off the road to text instead of paying attention to their surroundings; but, in reality, no one is. No matter a person’s age, when texting and driving, they are automatically putting not only themselves in a dangerous position, but everyone around them as well.
Parents often claim that they don’t understand why kids text and drive. The sad truth is many people learn this deadly habit directly from watching their families and friends do the same. Fifteen percent of young drivers have seen their parents text while driving, and almost 48 percent of kids ages 12 to 17 have actually been in a vehicle while the driver was texting.
People simply do not realize the distraction of texting and driving. According to a study done by the AAA Foundation, teenage drivers are distracted nearly 25 percent of the time they are driving. Estimates by the federal government show that 16 percent of all fatal crashes are due to distracted driving, which adds up to about 5,000 deaths a year. At least 23 percent of all car accidents each year are caused by cell phone use, totaling 1.3 million car crashes yearly.
AT&T’s “It Can Wait” program encourages people of all ages to recognize that no text message, social media site, video, phone call, or other distraction is worth risking their life or the lives of others around them. Making your “It Can Wait” pledge states that, not only will you never text and drive, but also that you will try to educate others on the extreme dangers of texting and driving, and encourage them to take the pledge as well. With each pledge, we are eliminating danger and making the road a safer place for all.
Take the pledge to never text and drive at ItCanWait.com. I have taken the pledge never to put myself or others in danger while I drive. Will you?
It Can Wait
By Jaclyn Montgomery
Cuba High School
One text; that’s all it takes to change a life forever. Texting while driving should not happen. An accident that is caused by a texting driver can be fully prevented. Think about how many lives could be saved if everyone would put down the phone when they’re driving.
You are 23 times more likely to get in an accident if you are texting and driving. Looking down to read one text for five seconds when going 55 miles per hour, the length of a football field has already been traveled. That’s driving 120 yards blind! In those five seconds, anything could’ve happened. A child could have run in the middle of the road, your vehicle could have gone off the road, or you could have caused a head-on collision if you crossed the yellow line.
Stop texting and start driving. No text is worth a life. Is a text important enough to look at or send while driving and maybe cause an accident or take someone’s life? No, it isn’t. That text can wait. No life should be taken because of a text message. It happens all too much.
When texting while driving, you’re not only putting yourself in danger, but also the ones around you. Who’s in the car with you? Maybe your family or friends, is their life worth it? How about the people in the vehicles around you? You may not know them, but their life isn’t worth it either. They also have a family. It wouldn’t even be their fault if they were killed. It’s yours, the texting driver. They wouldn’t even see it coming. They have no idea and it could have all been prevented if the phone was put down.
No life is worth a text message, it can wait. Take the pledge at ItCanWait.com.
Is It Really Worth It?
By Cheyenne Breeding
Bourbon High School
“I can’t discuss this now. Texting and driving is not safe! Haha.”
Taylor Sauer was a bright and outgoing student at Utah State University. She was making a four-hour drive to see her parents in Caldwell, Idaho. During her late night trip she was messaging a friend about the Denver Broncos.
Deciding to end the message she posted, “I can’t discuss this now. Texting and driving is not safe! Haha.” Taylor, going almost 90 mph, crashed into a tanker truck that was only going 15 mph up the hill. She died instantly.
Investigators noticed that there were no signs of her even applying the brakes before her fatal accident. Two years after her accident her parents and friends still mourn their loss.
What makes kids feel as if they’re invincible? Is it that we send hundreds of texts each day that causes us to be so confident? We think that while texting a short message it doesn’t affect our driving.
A texting driver is 23 times more likely to be in an accident than someone who is not. Is your “short message” worth having a short life? It only takes a few seconds before you lose control; in 2011 nearly 3,500 people died from distracted driving and drivers. Those couple seconds caused 3,500 people to lose their lives.
Why is it that we need to be in contact with others constantly? The message that is so important can wait; it will still be there when you stop. Don’t ruin your life or somebody else’s because you feel confident enough to text and drive.
To read more stories on texting and driving go to www.textinganddrivingsafety.com Help others and yourself by taking the pledge and drive at ItCanWait.com.
It Can Wait
By Caleb A. Jones
John F. Hodge High School, St. James
The road is a dangerous place—anybody who has been in a car crash can attest to that. As a new driver, I have recently been exposed to all of the dangerous stunts people pull behind the wheel.
Drivers turning without using their turn signals, running through stop signs, passing in no-passing zones and pulling out in front of other people are all commonplace on the road. Even though I have only been driving for less than four months, I have faced several situations in which mere seconds have been the difference between a safe ride home and a car crash.
The road is full of peril even to drivers who pay full attention to the road—imagine how dangerous it might be to drive while staring at a screen and typing on a keyboard. Driving requires your full attention and texting while driving is undoubtedly a major distraction; it requires you to take your eyes off of the road, your hands off of the wheel and your focus off of your driving.
Distracted driving is incredibly dangerous. Car crashes can happen in fractions of a second. The time one spends looking at his best friend’s text message may have been better spent hitting the brake pedal. In summary, if you take a few seconds to look down at your text messages, you may never live to look back up.
Texting while driving doesn’t just affect young adults and teens; it affects everyone. When you drive, you have more than just your life in your hands. Whenever you get behind the wheel of the motor vehicle, you are responsible for the lives of everybody on the road—other drivers, their families and their children. By texting and driving, you are not only endangering your own life, but the lives of others as well.
Solving this crisis will require more than just a change in law; it will require a change in culture. It will require that people view texting and driving for what it is: ignorant. Solving this issue will require people of all ages and walks of life to band together to spread the word that texting and driving kills.
One way to do this is to take the pledge at ItCanWait.com. By taking the pledge, you affirm that your life and the lives of other drivers are more important than a frivolous text message. You promise that you will never text while driving and that you will encourage others to do likewise. By spreading the word, we can ensure that drivers are paying their full attention to the road, making the road a safer place for everyone.
In conclusion, the road is too dangerous a place to sit back and let people drive distracted. Texting and driving affects everyone. Nearly everyone drives a car, rides in a car, or crossed the street several times in the course of a day. Take the pledge at ItCanWait.com. By promising to never text and drive and to spend awareness of this issue, you could save countless lives.