Earlier this year eligible high school seniors across the 14 counties SCCU serves were invited to submit an essay or video educating other teens about the dangers of distracted driving. A $2,003 scholarship was awarded to the student that provided the most compelling case to convince other teens to not text and drive, with $100 gift cards being awarded to the second through fifth place finalists.
Meghan Beadle – 2nd Place Finalist, Cocoa Beach High School
Thump, thump, thump. Your car cannot help but dance to the music. With the windows down, a whirlpool of air manifests itself in your backseat. The breeze and excitement are your new passengers. It’s just you, the road, and freedom. Barreling down the road, you think, “Eh, I could break the speed limit a little bit,” and accelerate. You have been on the road for a while now and only halfway to your destination. With no one to talk to, boredom develops. All of the sudden, bing, your phone awakens. Oh a notification, and as your eyes become bewitched by the bright pixels filled with news or gossip, the car in front of you slows down to a virtual stop. Continuing the hypnosis, your eyes remain on the screen for a few more moments and when you look up, you do not have time to think. Your foot slams on the brake and the anticipation slams your lungs. Your tires screech in pain and the tail of your car wobbles back and forth. Then, you are stopped and everything was absolutely still. You got lucky. As relief settles in, you vow to always focus on the road.
A few months later, you are driving on the road again. The car thumps, the windows are down, and the wind is scurrying through your hair. It’s just you, the road, and freedom – and a few of your friends. This time, your phone is in your face down in the cubby under the radio. You reaffirm there are no distractions. The radio decided to play everyone’s favorite song. Of course, you have to sing along. As each word leaves your lips, the faster you go, and the faster you go, the more entranced in the song you get. Once the song ends, you decide to change it to your other favorite, but wait, there is a text from Mom. You have to see what Mom said. The turn for you is coming up and you prepare to get into the right lane. You turn on the blinker, blink, blink, blink, and as you turn to look at your blind spot, you begin to move lanes. Your brain was so mesmerized by the song that you didn’t realize the gravity of checking your phone and thus did not comprehend that there was a car in your blind spot. As your bumpers get close to merging together, the romance is interrupted by a car horn. You swerve back into your lane, slam the music off, and throw the phone down. Everyone in the car welcomes relief and is silent. And you vow to always focus on the road.
A few years later, you are driving on the road again. The car no longer thumps, the windows are up, and the wind is exiled outside. No distractions – just you, the road, and focus. A red light is approaching and you gradually slow down. Patiently waiting your turn, but complaining a little for the light to change to green. You think of the errands you have to do. “First, go to the food store to pick up dinner. Maybe I will have chicken. I’ll see what’s on sale. And then the post office, oh, I hope my shipment from Old Navy came in.” The light turns green and you begin to turn. “...Then, get more gasoline on the way home. Don’t forget ab-.” Before your thought could finish its sentence, a car rams into your side door while you’re turning in the middle of the intersection. Game over – all because the driver in another car prioritized a text over your life. Just because you are not distracted does not mean others are not. You are now a statistic, a part of the 421,000 people who get in distracted driving accidents. Do not be a statistic. Do not only be the change you want to see in the world by not texting and driving, but advocate to your friends, family, community, and lawmakers about the dangers of texting and driving. Live.
2nd Place Finalist – Meghan Beadle
High School Senior