When Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers set up a scholarship program last year, we wanted to help local students meet some of the costs of their studies. We also wanted to raise awareness of one of the most significant hazards facing teens on the roads of Virginia – distracted driving.
We were happy to present three Hampton Roads students awards of $2,000 each in the first Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers Distracted Driving Awareness Scholarship. The winners are Audry Feltner, Jackson Campbell, and Dyon Dixon.
The recent revolution in social media and electronic devices has given us a wealth of information at the touch of a finger. But there is a deadly downside. It has also fueled a distracted driving epidemic in Virginia and elsewhere. Teens are more likely to be killed in distracted driving incidents than any other age group and the summer is the most deadly time on the roads of Virginia.
Entrants to the scholarship were tasked with highlighting the distracted driving issue and suggesting ways to tackle the problem.
Audry from Chesapeake and Dyon from Suffolk submitted essays on distracted driving. Campbell compiled a PowerPoint presentation. Campbell will be attending Regent University, majoring in Business with a concentration in marketing. He completes a mission trip every summer in Mexico with his family. Dyon will be attending the Art Institute of Virginia Beach and Audry will be attending Rowan University in New Jersey.
In her essay, Audry, who graduated from Hickory High School, suggested Virginia should impose tougher penalties to deter distracted drivers.
“One must look at the current penalties and their effectiveness. Currently laws fine people $125 for texting and driving while drinking and driving results in a minimum 10-day incarceration with a one year license suspension on a first time offense. Yet people still make the decision to partake in these risky activities.”
She supported an increase in the penalty for first time texting offenses. She suggested drivers should lose their licenses for distracted driving offenses.
Audry has been recognized for her leadership, service, and character by being selected for National Honor Society, the Hickory High School Academic Excellence Award, the Virginia High School League Academic Excellence Award, and the Hickory High School Varsity Award.
Dyon is a graduate of King’s Fork High School in Suffolk. He wrote in his essay that drivers should take preparations before getting on the road to minimize distractions. This includes carefully planning your route in advance, taking breaks and pulling over to a safe place if you want to check your cell phone.
His essay also addresses the fact one of the most significant forms of distracted driving is being lost in your thoughts behind the wheel and failing to pay attention while driving. There are cognitive strategies that can be employed to tackle daydreaming.
Distracted driving is blamed on a spike in deadly crashes in Virginia and elsewhere in recent years. The number of accidents linked to distraction is comparable with those linked to drunk driving.
In 2016 alone, 3,450 people died in the United States in accidents caused by distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Every year, about 400,000 people are injured in crashes caused by distracted driving.
During daylight hours, about 481,000 drivers are using cell phones while driving. It’s an issue that creates enormous potential for deaths and injuries on U.S. roads. Teens were the largest age group involved in fatal distracted driving crashes, according to NHTSA.
In 2017, over 15,000 injuries resulted from more than 26,000-plus crashes that involved “self-reported” distracted driving, according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. The DMV estimates you are 23 times more likely to crash your car if you are texting at the wheel, an illegal practice in Virginia. You are nine times more likely to crash if you are reaching for an object in your car.
Congratulations to our scholarship winners for their research in highlighting this deadly problem on the roads of Virginia. We hope these awards will propel them to future success. The scholarship is ongoing and is eligible to college-bound graduating seniors at a public or a private school in the Tidewater area of Virginia and on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Find out how to enter the 2019 Distracted Driving Awareness Scholarship on our website. Drive safe on the roads of Virginia this summer and resist the temptation to reach for your phone. Contact Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at (757) 455-0077