At Thomas Law Offices, we’re proud to take part in a biannual scholarship campaign aimed to help students chase their dreams and build a brighter future. The Spring 2018 submission period just came to a close, and we were truly humbled by the overwhelming amount of applications we received. The quality of the essays we received was outstanding. Thank you to everyone who applied!
We’re pleased to announce we’ve chosen a winner.
Congratulations to Jasmine Josh of Collegeville, PA!
Jasmine will be attending University of California, Berkeley.
This was the essay topic:
“How can we encourage drivers to prioritize their safety and the safety of others when behind the wheel?”
This was her winning essay:
Education, Awareness, and Mindset Shift: How to Make Our Roads Safer
From texting, to alcohol, to tiredness, distractions when driving are unacceptably abundant. Drivers can easily lose focus of the road for minutes- when all it takes for an accident is one second. As drivers spend more time on the road, gradual apathy sets in. This causes them to be less aware, and less reactive to external stimuli.
When they become too comfortable, they devalue the risks and hazards driving poses. The thought of accidents actually occurring becomes distant and of no consequence. These factors increase the likelihood of accidents. To effectively combat this epidemic, preventing future accidents and injuries through distracted driving, our society must implement increased education and awareness.
Down the road from my house, by a busy street intersection, there is a small patch of public grass. Around the holidays, an overturned car appears here, with a sign reading, “It Could Happen to You. Don’t Drink and Drive.” This car acts as a very real, tangible, and up-front display of the consequences that come with distracted or drunk driving. It is so shocking to see something like this up-close and personal (it’s mere feet from the line at the stoplight). Reinforcing the dangers reckless driving carries helps people understand, and lessens accidents.
When all you are educated with about driving safety is verbal, or even through a screen, it makes less of an impact. You feel distant, like it could never happen to you. However, seeing it in real life in this way creates a clear connection between cause and effect that is remembered. Repetition creates firm knowledge and awareness, and by seeing this car every time you drive past this intersection, you are reminded to not drink and drive. This memory stays in the front of your mind, so if you go to a party, for example, you will make more responsible decisions.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 660,000 American drivers use mobile devices while driving. This is far too many- if even one out of every sixty of those people slipped and caused an accident, there would be 11,000 accidents due to mobile distraction. Situations like these can be avoided.
By placing reminders like signs reading, “You can’t afford to drink and drive” or “You can’t afford a DUY” the awareness necessary to make smart choices is implemented. Just seeing this sign on the way out to a bar is enough to make people reconsider how their will act.
Another way society encourages drivers to prioritize their safety and the safety of others when behind the wheel, is through advertising. The companies that sell alcohol should and are taking action to encourage safe driving. With commercials displaying those who drink getting a ride home (Uber, taxi, or designated driver) and adding reminders to “always drink responsibly” consumers are becoming more aware of the problem.
Ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft help combat the excuse of not having a designated driver, reducing drunk driving accidents. Through changing the social message we send about drinking to include getting designated drivers, we can encourage and normalize this positive behavior.
Urban sprawl contributes to drunk driving related accidents. There are less of these accidents in cities, where locals can either walk to and from a bar, or use public transportation. In rural areas, however, people are forced to drive to their destination. If we could increase the availability of public transportation to these areas, people would make use of it rather than drive under the influence.
This requires serious upheaval and redesign of our current society, making it a less viable option. Still, finding a way to reduce the negative effects of urban sprawl, such as with ridesharing apps, will help reduce accidents.
Introducing applications on mobile devices that shut down the function when driving have been in the works. While not perfect (some cannot tell whether the passenger is using the phone, and still close off access just because a vehicle is in motion), this technology is a start. Removing the initial problem causing these distracted accidents involves better technology than the technology that started it.
Overall, the most effective way to encourage driver safety is mindset. Shifting public mindset to be aware of the dangers driving holds, rather than growing apathetic and numb to them just because someone has been driving for years without a problem, is key. Through education, we can change our society to prioritize sleep not just for health reasons, but for safety on the road. Tired driving is as dangerous as, or even worse than drunk driving- yet it is the most common cause of road mishaps and accidents.
Treating it like the epidemic it is raises public awareness and increases action. Possibly introducing additional driver tests every ten years will keep drivers aware and ready to handle unexpected circumstances. Creating a culture where drinking and designated drivers go hand in hand reduces accidents greatly. Through implementing these methods and innovating more, our society can educate and encourage driver safety, making the roads a safer place.
For more information on our next scholarship period which will be for Fall 2018, please see our law firm’s scholarship page. Congratulations again, Jasmine! May all your dreams come true.