All of the attorneys and staff at Welsh & Welsh PC, LLO are dedicated to helping our local and nationwide communities navigate toward a brighter future. In 2017, we decided to start a scholarship that would help us do just that by assisting one college student with securing their college education. The latest submission period for that scholarship, Fall 2018, just came to a close.
We were truly humbled by the amount of applications we received as well as the exceptional high quality of every essay. All of the essays were outstanding. Choosing just one winner was difficult!
We’re pleased to announce we’ve chosen a winner.
Congratulations to Sadie Gibson of Macon, GA!
Tristen will be attending Mercer University Law School.
We asked our applicants to talk about why prioritizing roadway and driver safety are so vital.
This is Sadie’s winning essay:
“Driving with your mom is never easy. Even as twenty-three-year-old college student, if my mother is in the driver’s seat, I will be told I need to brake earlier, drive slower, and not get too close to the median. Most of the time her nagging is dealt with by a “Yes ma’am” and a clenched jaw, but not always. One time, as we were exiting a fast food restaurant, as I began to turn left, my mom screamed for me to watch out. This frightened me, and I slammed on the brakes, only to realize she thought I hadn’t seen a car that was turning into the restaurant. This was the last straw for me.
“Dammit, you can’t keep doing this!” I told her. “I am driving a weapon. If this were a gun, then when you scared me, it would have been fired.”
There are some things that will never change. I’m sure that even when I’m forty-years-old, my mom will still worry about my driving and part of me understands why. In addition to the dangers of unsafe roadways, animals and pedestrians, and weather, driving a car can feel like holding a loaded gun. Any negligent, aggressive, or distracted driving can result in serious injury or death of the drivers or others. According to the Journal of Computing in Civil Engineering, in 2007, over 400,000 vehicle accidents occurred in Illinois and resulted in 1,248 fatalities and 103,156 injuries. This was in in total, an estimated cost of $11.5 billion and on average, translates to three deaths per day and twelve injuries every hour (50). With this many fatalities and injuries in just one state, it is can be deduced that driver and roadway safety is a vital factor for the lives all people who drive motor vehicles or use road transport.
To further understand why roadway and driver safety should be a priority, it’s important to understand what causes accidents and why improvements to cars, driver behaviors, and infrastructure are necessary. One problem that poses a risk to driver safety is the distraction of cellular devices. Data journalist Felix Richter reports that National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that the number of cell phone related car accidents has increased by 50 percent since 2010, and in 2016, the number of people killed in car crashes was over 40,000: a level reached for the first time in years (Statistica). The International Journal of Injury Control & Safety Promotion claims that out of all distractions drivers face, the visual, manual, and cognitive attention that cell phones require causes the most hazardous form of distracted driving (187).
To combat this issue, many states participate in injury prevention and control programs that focus on education, enactment, enforcement, and other forms of intervention in order to succeed in reducing the morbidity and mortality associated with cell phone use by drivers. Though increasing awareness and laws has generated backlash is a slow process, the prevention of cell phone use while driving helps improve driver safety and with more political support and publicity, these prevention program can find even more success (Overton 188-190).
Another issue affecting transportation safety is poor road quality. Even the most attentive and unimpaired drivers can be at risk if the design or wear of the road is not in good condition. In a 2017 statistic that ranked countries with the highest road quality, the United States was ranked 5.7. This ranking was on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 being underdeveloped and 7 being extensively developed (World Economic Forum). According to the International Journal of Injury Control & Safety Promotion, the pace of safety improvements in road infrastructure is slower than the pace of safety improvements in vehicles and road users. This is partially due to roads being developed and maintained by public organizations that have no competitors in the market, and therefore, little incentive to provide safer roads (91). Because roadways are so vital for the transportation of goods and people, it is vital that their maintenance and improvements receive the same amount of attention and enforcement as other safety risks for drivers and roadway users.
Every time I get into my car, I am risking my life and the lives of others. However, for many people in the world, including myself, driving is a privilege and a necessity that will not be given up any time soon. It is because of this that driver and roadway safety is vital for everyone to understand, accept, and enforce. While a car may feel like a loaded gun, a vehicle’s first and foremost purpose is not to be a weapon, but a method of travel and transportation. The more we can do make road and driver safety a priority, the safer travel and transportation will be and—I’m hoping—the less worried our mothers will be.”
For more information on the next scholarship period which will be for Fall 2019, please see our law firm’s scholarship page for updates. Congratulations again, Sadie! May all your dreams come true.