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Ashley Birko

Third Place: Ashley Birko

Sagamore Hills, OH 44067

I am heading to West Virginia University in the fall of 2017 to study pre-veterinary sciences and business before moving on to graduate school to earn my doctorate in veterinary medicine. After that I would love to manage my own clinic as well as run my own dog rescue.


Distracted = Dangerous

One. I encourage you to say this tiny little word aloud. One. What happened when you did? Maybe you blinked, took a breath, or the dog outside barked. It may not seem like much, just the short space in between two moments. While nothing significant may have happened to you, one second to someone else can make all the difference- the difference, specifically, between life and death.

Anyone can tell you that distracted driving is dangerous. In fact, 64% of all car crashes in the US have a cell phone involved (Hopkins). In most cases, texting is the primary cause of distraction. According to Distracted Driving Accidents.com, texting and driving is actually six times more dangerous than drunk driving. Distracted driving also includes any factor that removes the driver’s eyes from the road, including the radio, car passengers, eating and drinking, or using a GPS. Though many commercials and campaigns stress the importance of alert driving, many neglect to disclose the consequences that come of distracted driving.

One of the most prominent anti-distracted driving campaigns is AT&T’s “It Can Wait.” This campaign focuses less on the factual details of distracted driving and more on the emotional impact that distracted driving can cause. This program creates and distributes numerous heartbreaking public service announcements to popular television channels, where it can be viewed by millions. Some of their most prominent videos were part of the “Final Text” series in which family members of the deceased show the texts that said the said deceased sent before or during a fatal crash. More recently, AT&T produced a video in which teenagers that drove distracted were introduced to crash survivor Jacy Good. Good explains to each of them how her life was forever changed by a crash that both paralyzed her and killed her parents. Her parents were attentive drivers, but were hit by an eighteen-wheeler that had swerved out of the way of a distracted driver. Good had to relearn how to walk, talk, and dress all because one person decided to text and drive. Featured on YouTube, this video currently has around 2 million views, myself included. I first experienced “It Can Wait” when watching football with my family. I remember being taken aback- staring in shock- when I saw the simulated car wreck of the ad contrasting with the usually humorous ads that played during breaks. After watching the video, I vowed to put my phone away when I finally learned to drive. To this day I still hold myself to that promise. Apart from television ads, It Can Wait also developed a phone application to minimize distractions for drivers. The app reduces driver to phone interaction so that the driver can stay focused on the road while not sacrificing the need for directions or other essential actions. The It Can Wait website also allows visitors to partake in a pledge against distracted driving.

One of the most prominent anti-distracted driving campaigns is AT&T’s “It Can Wait.” This campaign focuses less on the factual details of distracted driving and more on the emotional impact that distracted driving can cause. This program creates and distributes numerous heartbreaking public service announcements to popular television channels, where it can be viewed by millions. Some of their most prominent videos were part of the “Final Text” series in which family members of the deceased show the texts that said the said deceased sent before or during a fatal crash. More recently, AT&T produced a video in which teenagers that drove distracted were introduced to crash survivor Jacy Good. Good explains to each of them how her life was forever changed by a crash that both paralyzed her and killed her parents. Her parents were attentive drivers, but were hit by an eighteen-wheeler that had swerved out of the way of a distracted driver. Good had to relearn how to walk, talk, and dress all because one person decided to text and drive. Featured on YouTube, this video currently has around 2 million views, myself included. I first experienced “It Can Wait” when watching football with my family. I remember being taken aback- staring in shock- when I saw the simulated car wreck of the ad contrasting with the usually humorous ads that played during breaks. After watching the video, I vowed to put my phone away when I finally learned to drive. To this day I still hold myself to that promise. Apart from television ads, It Can Wait also developed a phone application to minimize distractions for drivers. The app reduces driver to phone interaction so that the driver can stay focused on the road while not sacrificing the need for directions or other essential actions. The It Can Wait website also allows visitors to partake in a pledge against distracted driving.