Picture this: a sixteen-year-old girl, let’s call her Emily, is driving in her brand-new convertible. Emily’s mother allowed her to drive to school today which was a big show of trust. As she walks out of the door her mother says “Stay safe. Remember to wear your seatbelt and put down your phone.” On the way to school, she drives past her friend Karen’s house and honks for her to come out. When Karen gets in the car immediately the girls start gossiping about the cutest boys in school, what classes they have today, etc. Karen’s mom looks out the front door and waves before shouting “Stay safe ladies! Don’t play your music too loud.” Karen and Emily roll their eyes and giggle. “Yes mom!” they shout at the same time and quickly drive off in the direction of their other friends’ house. They get to Lizzy’s house at 7 o’clock, 30 minutes before school starts and she is already waiting on the front porch with three muffins. As Lizzy gets in the car her mom also comes onto the front porch and waves a quick goodbye. “Love you, I’ll see you later. Remember to drive the speed limit please.” She says. Liz groans of embarrassment and we all wave back. Then off we go to school. Emily pulls onto Main street and rolls down the windows. Liz and Karen are screaming the words to Drake’s ‘In My Feelings’. Neither of them has their seatbelts on. Now that Emily sees that, she realizes she also doesn’t have her seatbelt on. She shrugs it off and starts singing along with her best friends. They start dancing in their seats, which results in Emily putting a little more strength on the gas pedal. She is now going 40mph in a 30mph zone. ‘Beep’ The attention is brought to Emily’s phone. She sits there and contemplates grabbing it to check, after all she is driving. But she decides to grab it and see if it’s a text from Brad, the cutest guy in school. Low and behold, Brad sent a question: Send a picture? All the girls in the car squeal and the car swerves slightly. A horn sound from the car next to them and Emily completely ignores the other driver. Karen takes out her phone and starts recording a video of Emily singing and dancing in the driver’s seat. Everything is great, until Emily turns around for a second too long and suddenly there’s flashing lights, honking horns, screams of pain and then its darkness. During this story did you notice any mistakes that Emily made? What was her first mistake? Emily’s first mistake was not listening to the adults in her life. Her mother reminded her to use her seatbelt and to put down her phone. Karen’s mom told them to not listen to their music too loud. Lizzy’s mom told them not to listen to their music too loud. Each adult warned them, but the teenagers did not listen. To save the children, we need to remind them that adults have been driving longer, that they do in fact have more experience with car accidents. It is not something that we can change, as teens are naturally ignorant. However, we can remind them that Emily’s mother never saw her smiling again. That Karen’s mom lost the only daughter she ever had. Lizzy’s family lost the light in their life. That their teachers marked them absent thinking that they were ditching. Is Emily real? No. But her mistakes are. Start listening to adults, they want to see you come home.
Emily is a fictional character made to represent teen drivers who disregard their parents recommendations and warnings and continue to drive distracted. Emily picks up her friends (Karen and Lizzy) before school. On the way to school they distract Emily and play around.