Naydeya Granger (Cottonwood HS – AL): Don’t Text & Drive Scholarship

”According to an AAA poll, 94 percent of teen drivers acknowledge the dangers of texting and driving, but 35% admitted to doing it anyway”. The National Safety Council reports that cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year. Texting while driving is 6x more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk”. According to the CPC, distracted driving caused an average of nine deaths and 1,000 injuries per day in 2018”. Why is this not  alarming to us? Why does this not wake us up to the fact that texting and driving is putting not only our own lives in danger but also others? An average of nine lives are lost over a simple and insignificant text message. Is it really worth it? Absolutely not. That text message can wait. But once a person has lost his or her life, there is no turning back. According to the CDC, there are three types of driving distractions: visual, manual, and cognitive. The scary part about texting and driving is that it combines all three of these.

My own experience of texting and driving was the visual distraction. On August 2, 2018, the day before my senior year started, I was rushing to take my sister to a hair appointment. It was pouring down rain and I was stressed because we were running late. I looked down for one second to text my sister to tell her I was running late. One second was all that it took. That one second of looking at my phone caused me to lose control of my car. My car began to spin around in circles across the road and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I was terrified and my life flashed before my eyes. The only thing that went through my head was, “am I going to die?” I ended up in a ditch. Before I knew it, water was seeping in through the driver’s side. I looked for my phone and noticed it was on the floor. I soon realized that I could not move. I was in excruciating pain because my back was hurting so bad. I just sat there and cried. I began to ask myself so many questions: “what if nobody ever finds me? What if my car catches on fire and I can’t get out? What’s going to happen to me?” I felt hopeless. Finally someone found me and called the ambulance. My parents arrived soon after that and then I was on my way to the hospital. The whole ride there, I simply sobbed and moaned in discomfort. I was so scared because deep down I knew something was wrong with me  and it wasn’t just whipflash. I arrived to the hospital, and instantly they began running test on me. We found out that I had some brain swelling, a concussion, and a broken vertabrae. Thankfully, they did not think surgery was needed, so they decided to give me a brace and some medicine. I could barley walk, I had a horrible headache, I couldn’t think straight, and my whole body was aching. I tell you all this to say just a simple text while driving can impact your whole life. In an instant, everything can change. I always thought that something so horrible would never happen to me and it did. That just shows that you never know.

Ever since that day I have not texted anyone while driving. I certainly learned my lesson. If I know I need to send an important text message, I will always text before I even start my car to go anywhere. Yes, after this experience, I can say with confidence that I can stop texting and driving and that I will never pick up my phone while driving again. It is not worth losing my life or risking someone else’s. So, can we do a better job at educating those around us about the dangers of texting and driving? Absolutely. I can share my story with other teenagers to bring awareness to the danger of this new norm. A simple text message is not worth losing your life over. Stop texting and driving.