Our scholarship program for wichita falls students

Teens need to do their part to make our roads safer

Distracted driving is a growing problem on our roads, and no one is more vulnerable to the dangers of distraction behind the wheel than drivers ages 15-19.

That’s why we’re proud to be partnering with the Wichita Falls Independent School District to offer three $1,000 scholarships for students who submit essays on the dangers of teen distracted driving – one each for Wichita Falls High School, Hirschi High School, and Rider High School.

If you’re participating in the scholarship contest, here are some facts and questions to consider:

What is distracted driving?

Distracted driving is anything that takes your attention off the road while you’re driving. There are three main categories of distracted driving:

A visual distraction takes your eyes off the road.
A manual distraction takes your hands off the wheel.
A cognitive distraction takes your mind off the task of operating your vehicle.

Some distractions can fall in more than one category – for instance, if you look down and reach down to pick something up, that’s visual and manual. Texting is especially dangerous because it falls in all three categories.

Examples of distracted driving include:

Talking on a cellphone
Taking pictures or video with a cellphone
Eating and drinking
Talking to passengers
Daydreaming or being “lost in thought”
Changing the radio station
Texting or emailing behind the wheel
Using a GPS device or smartphone app like Waze or Google Maps
Doing makeup or personal grooming
Reaching for an item inside the car
Rubbernecking (turning to look at something on the side of the road)

Some types of distracted driving are against the law!

  • Texting while driving is illegal everywhere in Texas.
  • Texas law also bans you from using a cellphone while driving if you’re under 18 or in your first six months of driving on your learner’s permit.
  • In many cities, including Wichita Falls, it’s illegal to talk on a cellphone while driving unless you’re using a speakerphone or a hands-free device, even if you’re over 18.
  • When you’re under 18 and driving on a provisional license, you can’t have more than one passenger under 21 (except family members) in the car with you. This is intended to limit distractions from young passengers.

There’s no law specifically banning other types of distracted driving, like eating and drinking behind the wheel – but as a motorist, you always have a legal responsibility to operate your vehicle safely.

Some questions to consider when writing your essay:

  • As someone who either is driving now or will start driving soon, how concerned are you about distracted driving on the road? How concerned are your peers?
  • Smartphones are becoming more and more essential to modern life, but using smartphones and other electronic devices is also the most common type of distracted driving. How can teens and young adults make sure they put safety first when a big distraction is always within reach?
  • Are there particular times of day or activities (e.g., driving to school, driving to work, going out in the evening) when teens are more vulnerable to distracted driving? How can we improve safety during those times?
  • Research has shown that when there are multiple teens in a car, risky driving behaviors like distracted driving become much more common. In your experience, what is the role of peers in distracted driving and how can teens help themselves and their peers be safer drivers?
  • How can parents, teachers, coaches, and other adults help teens make safe driving choices?

Further reading:

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