I didn’t believe that this could happen to me is the common phrase said by teenagers nationwide. Parents warn their children about the dangers of poor driving, show videos, and turn on the news only to find another teenager dead in a car accident. Yet, teenagers find themselves texting while driving despite a desperate plea from parents and law enforcement to stay off phones.
Laura Burke, senior, piled into her friend’s Honda CR-V and drove to a local lake to soak up some sun and enjoy the final days of summer. When Burke left that morning she had no intention of ending up in the hospital. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened.
Tanya Mishina, Burke’s friend and driver, was making a left turn out of the lake parking lot. “I remember Tanya texting as we were leaving. I didn’t think anything about it because we were going so slowly,” said Burke. “She stopped at the stop sign, tried to finish the last word as she turned, and I woke up in a hospital bed unable to remember much of anything.”
After stopping at the stop sign, Mishina turned only to be smashed by a car going over 60 mph. Burke was sitting on the passenger side of the car, right where the other car had struck.
Burke spent the next 24 hours in a hospital with a broken nose, two lost teeth, a concussion, lip lacerations, a black eye, and bruises on the right side of her body.
The incident has changed Burke for the rest of her life. “Most sixteen year olds can’t wait to get their licenses. I didn’t want mine; I was afraid of crashing,” Burke said. She reportedly waited until she was eighteen to get her license.
Burke is lucky to have escaped with her life. “When we got hit, I was sure I was going to die. I could barely feel myself breathe and I was bleeding everywhere.”
According to KeepTheDrive.com, over 82% of teenagers claim to use cell phones while driving. “My only advice to those texters is to stop while driving. It just isn’t worth it. You don’t know how dangerous it is,” she continued.
Texting while driving has recently been proven to be equivalent to a .08 percent blood alcohol level. Even more startling, is the fact that over 1.6 million teens admit to texting while driving.
North Carolina has recently instilled a new law to ban texting while driving to everyone operating a vehicle, not just those under 18. The law hopes to limit driver’s inattention and hopefully prevent accidents from happening.
“The law is targeted at just teenagers, but adults text also. Texting is just one inattentive action,” said Officer Faust, Leesville Road’s Resource Officer.
“My advice to teenagers is just pay attention,” said Faust. “It doesn’t matter if it is texting or turning up the music, it is all dangerous.
Sadly, Burke’s story is not uncommon. Although Burke’s accident did not result in death, some teenagers are not so lucky. According to KeepTheDrive.com, in 2008, over 4,000 teenagers died in a car crash, averaging 11 teenage deaths on the road a day.
However, many students still find themselves texting and driving. “I tried to stop with the new laws, but I really don’t think I will until something happens,” said Jessika Byrd, senior.
The idea of “waiting until something happens” is the same attitude that Burke once felt. “I was the typical invincible teenager. A car was like a play toy, until I realized it could kill me,” said Burke.
“One text message in a car may not hurt, but one text message while driving could kill,” said Burke.
Car crashes have become the number one killer of teens. Yet, this killer is something that can be prevented. Stay off your phones while driving; the text message can wait. Burke ended, “No text is worth getting in an accident, no text.”