Here is the winning essay:
“In 2017, the number of Americans killed in a car accident rose above 40,000 (2017 Estimates Show Vehicle Fatalities Topped 40,000 for Second Straight Year, 2017). When further broken down, that number reaches over 100 people a day. 100 people in the U.S. will die today because of a motor vehicle accident. The average school bus holds just over 50 seats; this means that two school buses full of passengers is equivalent to the number of people who will lose their lives in an accident that was or was not their fault. Driving safety is a huge deal, no matter your distance or destination- as it could determine the difference between your destination or your demise.
Driving safety is a variety of actions taken by a responsible, knowledgeable, and fully capacitated licensed driver when operating a motor vehicle on both public and private roadways. These actions include but are not limited to: focusing on the road, driving defensively, following a safe driving plan, and practicing safety (Safe Driving Tips, 2018). It is also important to note that driving safety is a choice- not a given. The overall idea of driving safety is that a driver is making good, thought-through decisions while driving to keep themselves and others safe on the road.
A survey done in the United States by the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), which is operated under the U.S. Department of Transportation, found that in 2017 only 89.7% of people nationwide wore their seatbelts when they drove (Traffic Safety Facts Crash Stats, 2018). This is an alarming percentage, as in 2016, over 10,400 people were killed in accidents when restraint systems were not in use (USDOT Releases 2016 Fatal Traffic Crash Data, 2017). That number indicates that 1 in 4 deaths were caused in an accident when no seatbelts were used. Buckling up is easily considered a part of driving safety, as it demonstrates practicing safety. With so many safety features in cars today, seatbelts still remain the most surefire way to keep oneself safe in the event of an auto accident.
With over 4.57 million people needing medical attention in 2017 because of a car crash, and over 413 billion dollars being spent on accidents nationwide, more movements need to be made to educate individuals on the importance of driving safety (2017 Estimates Show Vehicle Fatalities Topped 40,000 for Second Straight Year, 2017). To educate people on the importance of the issue, first the issue needs to be shown in a way that makes people realize the severity of our actions, and further, how they are not exempt from the statistic. Just because a person has never been in an accident, or they are a “superb” driver, it doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen to them. The grim reality is that this could easily happen to anyone, at any time.
PSA’s are definitely useful in showing the severity of the statistic. By running more PSA’s on larger, mainstream channels, as well as getting them on major social media apps, people become exposed to the actuality of the event. This is the first step to getting people to understand it’s importance: they have to see why it is an issue, as well as why they should care. The second step is to give opportunities to solidify the new stream of thought. They see why it’s a problem, now they need to understand how to be a part of the solution. Personally, I believe that having an expo or demonstration open to the community is an extremely solid way to push this understanding. People typically remember and resonate with an event over, say, an article or video. Being immersed in the learning and experience of something helps a memory attach to all the senses.
Having an event like this can be open to all-ages and should be free, on the weekend, and in a central place in a community. It shouldn’t be too difficult to find sponsors since everyone has been affected by a car accident at some point (dealerships or insurance agencies might be a good place to start). As far as volunteers go, there are plenty of societies, associations, charters, or student volunteers that are looking for hours or ways to help out. At an event like this, there can be info graphics set up about accident statistics; short sessions on how to be a safe driver and how to handle emergency situations; and an opportunity to test first hand how well of a defensive driver you really are.
Comparable to my idea, Ford offers a half-day event to teens called “Ford Driving Skills for Life” (https://www.drivingskillsforlife.com/) that allows newly-licensed teens to test their defensive driving skills and learn how to be a safer driver. They instill this teaching by placing you behind the wheel of a vehicle and partaking in both distracted driving, impaired driving, and emergency preparedness (on a closed course). I attended the event two years in a row and have left with the confidence that I am a safer driver because of it.
Ultimately, I believe that these two courses of action could help communities become both knowledgeable on this epidemic, and eager to put driving safety in effect. With trends showing that motor vehicle accidents are the ninth leading cause of death globally (over 1.3 million die a year), people should be jumping at the opportunity to learn how to help lower it and become a part of the solution, rather than the problem (Annual Global and United States Road Crash Statistics, 2018). By educating others about the importance of driving safety, we can make our roads safer for everyone, and make it safe to drive from point A to point B without the worry that we will become another statistic. Human choice is the cause of 94% of serious crashes in the U.S. (Traffic Safety Facts Crash Stats, 2018)- let’s choose to commit to driving safely.”
For more information on the next scholarship period which will be for Fall 2019, please see our law firm’s scholarship page. Congratulations again, Kimberly! Good luck in all your future endeavors.