Congratulations to the spring 2020 Contest Winners:
THE ROAD AINT NO GAME
Distracted Driving Kills
Bring A Friend
Sarah Has Learnt Road Responsibility
It’s 6 a.m. The sun isn’t quite up yet and the sky is overcast. Sarah is excited to drive to school. She had passed her driving test last week and had received her drivers license. She had also won her race yesterday ensuring her sports scholarship for college, so she was really happy. The only thing that bothered her was the songs from her little sister’s speaker. “Sabrina, why do you bring that everywhere ?” Sarah sighs. “Mom says I can”, Sabrina replies. Sarah continues to eat her cereal ignoring the irritating device. She was finally gifted with the thrill of carrying herself places, completely unbothered by her hurrying parents. But, unfortunately she also has to taxi this child and her annoying toy. Determined to keep her cheerful mood, Sarah left the table and began to get ready for school. It’s 7 a.m now and Sarah is leisurely driving. The clouds have departed and the sky is bright cyan. The gleaming sunshine seems to pleasantly illuminate everything on earth; from the grass that lines the sidewalk, to the alluring sparkle of the steering wheel. The moment was too perfect to resist an addition to her Snapchat story. However, she thought against it, briefly remembering her mother nagging about road safety. “I’ll be really quick,” she thought. She reached over to the middle of the passenger and driver seat, got her phone and opened up Snapchat. Her fingers were just about to release the record button when an abrupt “Renegade! Renegade! Renegade!”, started blasting from Sabrina’s speakers, causing Sarah to jolt up and drop the phone underneath the gas pedal. Enraged (and a little startled), Sarah began scolding Sabrina, “Turn that thing down, I’m trying to concentrate!”. Seconds after this statement a large trailer truck sharply turned into their lane and recklessly sped towards them. The girls screamed as the roaring vehicle had no intention of stopping. Sarah turned the wheel and tried to step on the gas but the phone was still underneath it. A large boom rang through her ears and Sarah could no longer feel her legs. Sabrina, thankfully only minorly bruised, ran to the driver’s side and began to pull her out the car. Sarah’s vision began to fade and only a piercing feeling in her leg remained before she lost consciousness. Hours later Sarah found herself in a hospital bed. A doctor whispered to her mother that she wouldn’t be able to walk again. Utterly crest-fallen, Sarah covered her face and began to cry. Her mother rushed over to her and held her. “Let go off me”, she croaked. “I don’t deserve this. I was irresponsible. You were right mom. I’m so sorry.” “No sweetheart. We love you no matter what. But Sarah you have to understand that cars aren’t toys. You have to focus when you’re on the road.” I wish there was another way you could understand this without having to go through the pain of losing your legs. I’m sorry. It’s my fault I should have warned you more and insisted on its importance.” “I was irresponsible. I’m so sorry.” They sat there for a while and cried, supporting each other in this time of weakness. Months have passed and Sarah is alright. She can’t race anymore but she was still able to go to her dream school. Sarah now spends most of her time writing speeches and presenting Ted Talks about driving safety. Instead of using her situation to demonize herself she aims to share her story and educate young drivers, in the hopes that they won’t encounter a similar situation.
Liberty High School - Hillsboro, Oregon
West Campus High School - Sacramento, California
My alarm goes off every morning at 5:30 am. The loud vibrations of my phone against my nightstand and the hum of the song I chose to wake up to bring me back into consciousness where I’m faced with the most constant presence in my life: that dimly lit blue screen, stinging my eyes in the darkness. I roll out from under my covers, my phone clutched in my hand. I check my email while the water boils for tea. I check my DMs while it steeps. Thankfully, I’ve memorized the route from my kitchen back to my bedroom. I never even have to look up from the screen. For twenty minutes, I sit in my bed drinking my tea. I don’t notice the warm mug in my hand, the condensation fogging up my glasses, the bitter-sweetness of black tea with milk. I’m checking my Instagram feed. I’m flipping quickly through every story, my eyes staying on each image just long enough to be entertained, and then leaving before I get bored. I meditate for 15 minutes. I breathe in and out, counting my breaths. Each time I have a distracting thought, I redirect it. The images on my eyelids are pixelated. I think about little blue “verified” checkmarks on Twitter, I think of influencers wearing cool new leggings with pockets, I think of discount codes and CNN updates. I switch the music every couple of minutes while I do my make-up. I play a game on my phone while I eat my cereal. In every moment I am in two worlds at once, and not fully present in either of them. And then I get in my car to go to school. My phone is in the backseat. My hands wrap around the cold leather of the steering wheel, I watch the frost melt away on my windshield. It’s still dark when I pull out of my driveway and start down the road. It’s one of those mornings in Oregon the fog conceals everything except for the neon signs of businesses, the glowing traffic lights, and the reflective markings on the asphalt. But there is nothing else I need to see. My eyes are on the road, my mind is on the cars around me, and my hands are firmly on the steering wheel. It feels so nice, for a moment, to not give in to distraction. To be fully present while I make every choice I can to ensure the safety of myself and the people around me. In a world where the most frequent noise I hear is the default Apple ringtone and the most common feeling I feel is my phone buzzing in my back pocket, these moments where I am present are so important. This focus is what keeps me compassionate, what reminds me to focus on how my actions might affect the people around me. It reminds me of the deep danger distraction can bring. In a world where I am constantly distracted, my presence and focus while driving is the best gift I can give to myself and the people around me.