2nd Place 2015 – Coral Van Dyne

The community of Pottawatomie County grew far apart when a texting and driving incident occurred four years ago. A well-known high school boy was speeding down a twisty, curvy road in Shawnee. He was rushing to class, so he would not be late for a mid-term. Him and another high school boy, sitting in the back seat, were without seat belts. The driver received a text and looked down to reply. In that moment he spun off the road, killing himself and the passenger.

I can remember walking through the empty, lifeless hallways the day after this dreadful event. People were in complete distress. Teachers and students were so shocked that they could not stop crying. Every single class was turned into a counseling session. For weeks, I felt like the community had fallen apart. People suddenly stopped opening doors for others and greeting one another as they walked by each other. After a few days, I realized why this event affected so many people, even the ones who did not personally know the two deceased boys. People realized that this type of incident could have happened to themselves or their loved ones. Death can occur by the simple act of pulling out a phone to check a text. Everyone driving thought back to the many times that they sent a text, answered a phone call, or messed with anything on their phone while driving. I asked people how they were and many replied by saying, “it could’ve been me.” This phrase sat in the minds of every Pottawatomie County citizen. People also had to come to terms with the fact that they could have been the passenger, who also died due to texting and driving. For a while, I heard many people pledge to never text and drive. People promised to make roads safer for everyone driving or riding in cars. However, as time passes much of the community forgets the promises they made to not text and drive.

Over the past few years, I came to terms with the fact that people will text and drive, even though they know the dangers of doing so. Sadly, the terrible death of two students did not make a big enough impact to lead to no more texting within the community. This result would be common throughout many communities because people tend to block out the sad or negative occurrences in their life. My community needs the ban on texting and driving. Without the new law we would soon be reliving the event from four years ago over and over. How will the texting and driving ban improve my community? This law brings everyone in my community back to the day of the car accident. This texting while driving ban reminds everyone of pledges they made to be safe. This law will bring patience among citizens in my community, as people are forced to wait to look at and reply to any incoming texts. Patience is a quality that few individuals come to master in this new day and age of technology and electronics. This new law will bring trust among citizens in my community. Many people are scared for their lives when driving onto roads, due to unfocused drivers. Trust in other drivers will allow people to be less fearful of using cars as their transportation to work, school, or other places. This law will bring respect among citizens in my community. People will admire that citizens are willing to put other’s lives ahead of their electronics. The ban of texting and driving will encourage people to stop texting and driving. In return my community will be brought together as one.

Admittedly, this ban will not stop all texting while driving; nevertheless, a ban will definitely reduce the amount of electronic usage when driving. In return my community will become a safer, more patient, and caring place for people to live. People will have respect for one other and feel a sense of joy that others are willing to put aside a phone for their safety. Why would a person want to risk killing someone else for a pointless text? This should be the question people ask. People need to take time to understand what could happen if they text and drive. I will set an example by not texting and driving. I will also show others how the texting and driving ban could benefit my community in a number of ways. I hope everyone will have the same thoughts; put a time-out on texting while driving.