Scholarship 2019 Award  Winner

Did you know that 81% of drivers use their phones behind the wheel, despite it being illegal is 47 states? One accident could raise your auto insurance rates by up to 200%.

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Mathew B. Sims is Editor-in-Chief and has authored, edited, and contributed to several books. He has been working in the insurance industry ensuring content is accurate for consumers who are searching for the best policies and rates. He has also been featured on sites like UpJourney.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 26, 2021

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The Autoinsurance.org Scholarship team is excited to announce the winner for our 2019 Scholarship is Maria Werre from Martin Luther College. To apply, students had to submit an essay on phone usage and driving. 

Congratulations, Maria! 

Maria’s Essay

The lives of today’s younger generation are not merely surrounded by technology; they are consumed by it. A phone in the hand of a teenage girl makes her feel confident and safe. It is her tool to show the world that she is beautiful. To a young man, it is his connection to the world, and to friends that build up his ego. Phones are not merely an object to my generation; they are one of the most crucial parts of our lives. I firmly believe this is a bad relationship to have, especially in the car. Although phones can be useful and fun, they are not worth the life one may lose over it.

During adolescence, the human body goes through many drastic changes and developments. The adolescent brain has not fully developed yet. Teens have a unique quality in which they do not feel as much fear as adults or children. They have a sense of being invincible as if nothing can harm them. Perhaps this is why they enjoy roller coasters, haunted houses, and thrills so much, and why an adult might not as much. But they also still lack the clarity to see the danger of many situations. With this combination of needing their phone and feeling minimal fear, there should be no surprise that young adults use their phones while driving. It is so important to show teens the dangers of using their phones while driving. Some good friends of mine recently lost a family member in a car crash. They believe she may have been on her phone and missed the truck coming towards her. To see the absolute grief and heartbreak of her family and friends broke my heart. No one should have to lose someone in that way; an accident that could have been prevented by simply setting down the phone.

“Each day in the United States, approximately nine people are killed, and more than 1,000 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.) I could not believe this. Reading through this article, and many others like it, was very hard for me. I could not stop thinking about all those families, and all those people that will never be able to fulfill their dreams. It makes me think about my own family and how crushed they would be. “Although there are many possible distractions for drivers, more than 275 million Americans own cell phones, and 81% of them talk on those phones while driving.” (Hang Up and Drive) I didn’t think that so many people would be using their phones. It appears that in addition to teens, many adults must also use their phones while driving. The worst thing about this is that the older generation should be setting a good example for the young and new drivers. How unsettling!

There are many ways one could go about spreading this message, but I believe the best approach is technology. Ironically, technology is the antagonist in this topic. However, this is how adolescents inform themselves. Creating social media accounts, promoting the idea is an easy way to spread the word fast. I have always admired the intense anti-smoking campaign. There are many videos, photos, and ads showing teens the effects that smoking can have on an individual. It has made an incredible impact over the last two decades. Smoking was much more common many years ago. So if the same approach is taken with our issue, we could start to see an incredible change! I also think that we cannot be delicate when relaying this information. For teens to understand that their lives are at stake, they need to see the consequences of what happens when people use their phones at the wheel — telling authentic stories about real people that made this mistake would get the idea across very well. I think they should hear from families that lost their loved ones, so to see how many people this could affect. It is a somber topic and not an easy one to talk about, but if we ignore the ugly truth, we will have many more sad stories.

No one ever expects tragedy to happen to them. One does not wake up thinking, “Today is my last day on this earth.” If we are careless with this precious gift of life, we may lose it. The most important message that we must spread, concerning this topic, is to think. Think before driving recklessly. Think before answering a text at the wheel. Think about the family members that would be left behind, heartbroken. Sadly, some that will not listen to reason, but others may. One could indeed send a text in only a few seconds. In that same amount of time, a life could end as well.

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