In 2016, there were nearly 14,000 crashes in Ohio caused by distracted driving. As a personal injury firm, we pride ourselves on promoting safety both in our communities and on our roadways and knew we wanted to help raise awareness about this heartbreaking statistic.
Tittle & Perlmuter are excited and proud to announce our Distracted Driving Awareness Scholarship recipients! Each year, we are able to narrow it down to two finalists, who stand out for their well researched and well written essays.
The application process involved current or incoming collegiates writing an essay on how distracted driving has impacted their lives. In 2018, we received over 215 applications from 24 states all over the country! There were hundreds of inspiring and personal stories from students who experienced the dangers of distracted driving first hand and the implications it can possess.
Although incredibly difficult, we were able to narrow it down to two finalists who stood out for their well written and heartfelt essays.
First Place – $1,000 Scholarship
Our firm awarded Domenic Fleming with First Place. He received a $1000 scholarship check to go towards his Sophomore year at Lorain County Community College,where he is working towards his goal to become a physical therapist. Domenic hopes to use his degree to follow his passion of helping others and making a positive impact on people’s lives.
Second Place – $500 Scholarship
Our firm awarded Jaime Muldrew with Second Place. She received a $500 scholarship check to go towards her Senior year at Arizona State University, where she is majoring in Journalism. Jaime is interested in teaching English abroad post-graduation and is excited to move to the next chapter of her life! You can read her essay below!
“Turn it up,” I shout from the back seat. The music is already loud, but my friend turns it up to full volume, and now the car is thudding to the beat. My heart is in sync with the rhythm of a bad pop song. I roll the windows down, and I stick my head out the window. My hair whips around in the warm air, and I feel free. I am fifteen, and I am invincible.
But I’m not. No one is.
I spend the next four years of high school learning how fragile a human life is. In a moment, four sophomore boys crash into a tree in the Poconos. In a moment, the senior sweetheart veers off the road and down a hill. In a moment, my friend is struck by a driver while walking home at night.
One blink and the people whose laughs are still echoing in the high school hallways are gone.
A funeral is never pleasant, but a funeral for a teenager is deeply bone-chilling. Everyone is weeping. Family members are grey, ghoulish-looking shells of themselves as they heartbreakingly attempt to brave face for the people who came. Today isn’t about them – their suffering and remembrance will endure long past the memorials end. We do our best to honor the life that left too soon as a frightening thought surfaces in our subconscious.
It could’ve been me. It could’ve been you.
My peers and I learned the dangers of distracted driving the hard way. In retrospect, the hard way was the only way to learn. For one day a year, our school placed a destroyed car on the front lawn and made a morning announcement about the dangers of drinking and driving. This was the extent of our education on driving safety. We never discussed distracted driving. Someone who has never been personally impacted by a car accident cannot source motivation to drive safely from a principal on a loudspeaker.
The motivation to drive safely is rooted in compassion, and compassion rests on a foundation of understanding.
Let’s develop this consideration by implementing safe driving lessons in a nationwide health curriculum. A simple, low-cost way to increase awareness is to start having effective conversations in the classroom. School boards could develop a standardized online class to prepare teachers with knowledge on safe driving education. The course should also give examples of how teachers can make the material personal and palpable. Passing should be mandated, especially considering the issues relatively new prevalence and the lack of urgency to diminish it.
As these lessons are taught to students, it’s imperative to remember that at the core of the information is a heartbeat.
While it’s necessary to discuss methods, it’s essential to foster the motivation in students to actually practice what you preach. Remind them of how valuable and delicate their lives and the lives surrounding them are. Writing or conversational exercises could be a powerful way to instill perspective. Ask them to write a family members speech at their own funeral. Ask them how they would explain to their parents they killed someone while driving distracted. It’s intense, but it’s reality, and it casts light on the hideous consequences of dangerous driving.
Accountability is key, whether we’re behind the wheel or riding in the passenger seat.
Health classes should spend at least five to ten minutes a day discussing safe driving, and teachers should let the students do the talking. Student lead lessons are efficacious for three reasons: people generally like talking about themselves, information is more readily absorbed when the learner is teaching (rather than reading or listening), and young people are more inclined to validate advice from their peers than their teachers. Have them tell a story about a person they know who was texting and driving. Let them talk about a time a friend was driving poorly and how they called him/her out. The more they control the dialogue, the more empowered they will become to hold themselves and their friends to a safe standard while driving.
The answer is simple. We need to learn how to care for ourselves and others.
Sure, we can put forth more laws about texting and driving. We can double the fines for distracted driving. This could help incentivize some momentarily, but it will not cure the problem. Instead, let’s put stock in the long-term solution that is, and always will be, education. Let’s teach kids that cars aren’t hunks of protective metal on wheels, that they’re breakable & store precious cargo – our lives. Starting at schools, we can build a society that decides it’s shameful to disregard your own life and other lives while driving. Let’s teach people that spreading love is as simple as focusing on the road.
“Can you roll up the windows? I can’t hear my GPS,” I gently order my best friend in the back seat. My phone is hooked up to Bluetooth so I do not have to look at it. There’s no music playing, but the sound of my friends banter sweetly comforts me.
I’m not invincible. But I’m alive, and that’s good enough for me.
In 2017, our firm awarded Elijah Blakely with First Place. He received $1,000 to go towards his junior year at Bowling Green State University, where he is majoring in Visual Communication Technology.
Our firm also awarded Sarika Ram with Second Place in 2017. She received $500 to apply towards attending Boston University this fall to study Journalism and Political Science.
Tittle & Perlmuter would like to thank every student who took the time to apply for their scholarship!