Distraction = Destruction This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

January 17, 2013
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Abigail, a mother and wife, was on her way home from work, looking forward to seeing her two kids and enjoying the weekend ahead of her. She decided to have a small bag of trail mix on her commute, as well as listen to the radio to keep her entertained. On the straight section of the highway, she thought that she could just take a peek at her texts. Once she started, she had to respond, taking both hands and eyes off the road. Her car veered, hit the guardrail, and crashed. The flashing blue lights and sirens arrived. The rush of ambulances, fire trucks, and police cars all were a blur. The crash scene was blocked off, with a police officer directing traffic and a medflight helicopter trying to land.

Is a quick “b there in 5 min” worth your life?

Let's look at the facts: 3,092 people were killed and about 416,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes because of distracted drivers in 2010. When texting while driving, the crash risk increases 23 times more than if the driver is not distracted. Because texting takes the driver's eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, it's like driving the length of a football field at 55 mph blindfolded.

“Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving,” according to distraction.gov. There are three types of distraction: visual, manual, and cognitive, according to the Center for Disease Control. A driver's navigation system takes their eyes off the road (visual), whereas eating or drinking takes the driver's hands off the wheel (manual), and talking on a cell phone using a hands-free device takes a driver's mind off the job of driving (cognitive). But texting while driving is the most dangerous because it involves all three types of distraction. It takes the driver's hands, eyes, and mind off what he is doing.

In 2011, 17-year-old Aaron Deveau was sentenced to four years in jail after causing a fatal car crash. He also had to do 40 hours of community service and give up his license for 15 years. Donald Bowley Jr. was killed and Luz Roman, Bowley's girlfriend, was seriously injured. Deveau's car crossed the center line, crashing head on into Bowley's car, police said. Deveau had been sending texts just before the crash.

Kris Murphy is a strong believer that driving and talking on the phone is dangerous because she has had personal experience with this tragedy. Her daughter, Chelsey, was killed at 19 in a car crash caused by a distracted driver. Additionally, Christopher Williams, was killed riding in a car driven by his cousin – a fairly new driver – who was texting and speeding.

Chelsey's and Christopher's lives were lost because of someone else's careless mistake. Their mothers are trying to look at the positives of these sad tragedies. Helpless is how Mrs. Williams felt the day she had to take her son off of life support, but she hopes his story will save countless lives. She is hoping that other teens (and adults) will realize the importance of control when they are driving in order to help prevent this from happening again. Likewise, Murphy is doing all she can to prevent these types of accidents, and reminding people of the dangers of driving distracted. She is fighting to pass a bill banning the use of cell phones in moving vehicles in Florida, having lost her daughter because of car cell phone use.

Why is this happening? People are not aware of the risks of distracted driving. If they do it once and get away with it, they are likely to try it again. Many drivers never think about the risks and don't realize how grave the consequences can be until it's too late.

Protect your life and others' by knowing the dangers of distracted driving and avoiding distracting activities. Don't replay Chelsey's and Christopher's tragedies.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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PriyaTARDIS said...
Feb. 8, 2013 at 1:39 pm
Wow, this is amazing, Anna!!! I really like how you used real people's stories to support your position, it makes the editorial much more effective. 
WaffleOcean2934 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 25, 2013 at 8:10 pm
Wow.  Those facts are really surprising.  Nice work on this.
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