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Chaffin Luhana Foundation Announces Winner of 2017-2018 Anti-Distracted Driving Scholarship Contest

The Chaffin Luhana Foundation is pleased to announce that Carson Kim is the winner of our annual Anti-Distracted Driving Scholarship. This scholarship honors a student working to fight distracted driving by awarding them a $2,000 Foundation scholarship to be applied toward their education.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that distracted driving claimed 3,450 lives in 2016, with another 391,000 injured in crashes involving distracted driving in 2015. They add that during the daylight hours, about 481,000 drivers use their cell phones while driving, creating “enormous potential” for deaths and injuries on U.S. roads.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that young adult and teen drivers are particularly at risk, as drivers under the age of 20 have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety discovered in 2015 that distracted driving in teens was a bigger problem than previously believed. Their video analysis of teen drivers revealed that distraction was a factor in nearly 6 out of 10 moderate-to-severe teen crashes—four times as many as previous estimates showed.

In June 2017, the AAA reported that new teen drivers ages 16-17 years old were three times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash, noting that fatal teen crashes “are on the rise,” increasing more than 10 percent between 2015 and 2016.

Recognizing the danger to young adults in particular, the Chaffin Luhana Foundation invites students every year to submit an inspiring essay about distracted driving. These essays can be about: (1) a personal experience with distracted driving; (2) about a proposed distracted driving awareness campaign; (3) or about how technology has impacted the rise of distracted driving in the U.S., and how it may be used to solve the problem.

Nearly 300 students participated in this year’s Chaffin Luhana Anti-Distracted Driving Scholarship Contest. We applaud their efforts and dedication to this deadly problem that plagues our roads. We hope you continue to raise awareness with your friends, family, and community to help reduce and eventually end distracted driving.

This year’s winner, Carson Kim, a senior at South Mecklenburg High School in Charlotte, North Carolina, chose to write on option three. In his essay, entitled, “Steering Toward the Future,” he explains why technology is both the problem and the solution to distracted-driving injuries and fatalities and gives examples of new innovations, devices, and apps that could help minimize drivers’ temptation to engage in distractive behavior. Carson will be attending The University of California in Fall 2018.

“The Chaffin Luhana Foundation seeks to highlight young individuals who are displaying outstanding characteristics in their lives, and who have the potential to create positive change in their communities,” said Eric Chaffin, founding partner of Chaffin Luhana LLP, a plaintiffs-only law firm. “Some of the most effective solutions to this growing problem are coming from youth, and the scholarship seeks to reward and recognize those working on solutions.”

“Distracted driving is an issue that weighs heavily on our minds, as studies show it’s only getting worse as technology advances. Too many people are being hurt and killed. We have to get control of this problem, and we are inspired when young people like Mr. Kim take the time and effort to examine the world around them and think not only about how it affects them personally, but how they can work in their communities to inspire and effectively create real change.”

Distracted driving is normally thought to be about using cell phones while driving, but newer, high-tech in-car dashboards are now adding to the problem.

In a 2017 study by researchers at The University of Utah, most infotainment systems inside 2017 model-year vehicles were found to be so distracting that they should not be enabled while the vehicle is in motion. The lead author of the study, David L. Strayer, stated that we can expect to see more problems associated with distracted driving “as more stuff is at the fingertips of the driver to distract them.”

Young adults like Mr. Kim and the hundreds of other students who applied to this year’s scholarship are just a small sample of the population working towards raising awareness for distracted driving and making our roads safer.

The auto manufacturer Nissan is developing an armrest named Signal Shield which blocks cellular service when a phone is placed inside it.

AT&T has collected over 25 million pledges for their “It Can Wait” campaign in an effort to stop distracted driving.

Mobile app developers are also trying to prevent distracted driving among teens and adults. Apps like “Lifesaver”, “Drivemode”, and “Trumotion Family” block/silence calls, texts, and app notifications on your phone while driving.

This problem is real and dangerous, but by raising awareness with your friends, family, and your community, we can work together to prevent injuries and loss of life due to distracted driving.

Remember to keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.