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Tyrell S. is another candidate who submitted an exemplary essay to our scholarship contest. His entry highlights the rise in distracted driving accidents due to our evolving dependency on portable electronic devices. Also, he sheds light on the problematic, arbitrary ways in which different states penalize different driving violations. Tyrell went the extra mile in his essay by researching and incorporating hard data into his submission. You can read the full entry below.
After the 2015 increase in accident fatalities, a problem arises: how can this be fixed with the increase in the usage of smartphones and other distractions to driving, while also increasing vehicle safety?
The problem with driving fatalities lies within the increase of distracted driving due to the evolution in technology and the endless possibilities the world of smartphones provokes. According to the Pew Research Center, the increase in smartphone ownership has increased by 10% from April 12, 2015 to November 6, 2016. This goes to the matching 10% of Distracted driving being a large part of accident fatalities due to the aggressive nature of distracted driving. There were a 391,000 people injured from distracted driving, 660,000 people using electronic devices while driving, and 3,477 people that died from distracted driving in 2015 alone as published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission. The increase of distracted driving will only increase.
There are few things that a government at any level from local to federal can do that will change the free will of humans to eliminate distracted driving, but there can be incentives or fiscal responsibilities to otherwise reduce the issue. Currently, texting and driving in ND is banned but the cost of the citation is $100 maximum, compared to Alaska which can be up to $10,000 and one year in jail. North Dakota being 1% of Alaska in terms of citation cost creates more of an incentive to put down the distraction and focus on the road and obstacles ahead.
States can promote safety against automobile accidents by putting out local advertisements against drinking and driving, texting and driving, or other occurrences that inhibit the ability of persons driving. Advertisements can only go so far though, so another step states can take is to provide a visual to what happens when a specific accident happens through real accident cars that show the aftermath of fatal car crashes relative to the type of distraction. Though graphic, these relatable examples will resonate more with people who may be careless and unaware of the consequences of distracted or inhibited driving.
There are many things individuals can share that can influence how people drive. A few examples can be the stories of those who are affected by the fatal crash and how it impacts them. These stories can be told at high schools, or videos can be shown at the local DMV to show the severity of any given situation that can result in a fatal accident. These alongside helpful bystanders such as passengers, bartenders (to prevent driving under the influence), or a message sent from someone who has had a previous encounter with a friend, relative, or been in a fatal crash.
While trying to prevent all these unfortunate disasters through the driver and such influencers, it is important to recognize a very important resource when it comes to preventing fatal crashes. People who are in fatal car accidents are at the mercy of their car and the durability of the opposing car. Whether or not a distracted driver gets in an accident with the technology we have to day should allow us to prevent more fatalities. With these technological advancements there will be a rise in the prices of automobiles. With these improved cars the root of the problem can be solved. By increasing safety in the car, car fatalities will decrease.
Preventing a fatal crash is worth more than the life of the victim. It is worth the happiness and the satisfaction of those influenced by the presence of the (what could have been) victim. A life should be spared by any means, whether the deterred distraction be due to an imposing fine, imprisonment, or a simple message from the mother of a victim. All messages in any form can provide solace in someone to potentially save a life.