Katie Hubbard (Saint Louis U): Don’t Text & Drive Scholarship

Our parents used to ask us: Would you jump off a bridge if your friends were doing it? Of course not. Even teenagers and young adults, who often feel like they are invincible, recognize that their lives can be dramatically altered, or even ended, in a split second when they hit the rolling water and sharp rock underneath. This typically deters people from risking jumping off. However, many of those same teenagers and young adults do not realize that something they are doing everyday could have the same result—texting and driving.

Texting while driving is a common danger that takes more than eight lives a day, and drastically alters thousands more. It is a danger that’s so easy to make excuses for. It will be just one text; it will take just a few seconds; it is important. It is time to stop making excuses. College-aged drivers are more than twice as likely to be involved in a car accident due to cell phone use than any other age group. We are not invincible and no text is worth a life.

My last message while texting and driving was about something that could have easily been discussed over the phone. I was picking up my brother and sister and their two friends to head back to my dad’s house. I had passengers filling all five of my seats in my Jeep. Although I have Bluetooth connections in my car, I did not want all five of them to hear my whole phone conversation. I thought texting would be easier. It is easy to forget the dangers of texting while driving because they are both such ordinary actions. Together, however, they can be lethal.

Now I realize I not only risked my life, but the lives of four other people, including two of my siblings, for convenience sake. Although recently I have been trying to avoid texting and driving by connecting my phone to my wireless Bluetooth and using SIRI to talk hands-free, I can’t count how many times I remember looking up from a text to see I’ve drifting slightly out of my lane or switched lanes all together.

The people affected the most by the risks of texting and driving are also the people who value their digital communication the most. Waiting to read or answer a message is rare. In a world full of constant multi-tasking and digital updates, driving can seem mindless and boring. Many who text while driving may not realize the risk they are taking, but take it regardless to occupy themselves.

I can and intend to completely stop texting and driving because I realize my life and the lives of my passengers are more valuable than avoiding a phone call for convenience sake or occupying myself through traffic. Every day, texting and driving takes lives of people who think it is more convenient or more interesting, but it doesn’t have to. We can choose not to jump off that bridge. You can choose not to text and drive.