Meet our Texts=Wrecks finalists: Katherine Harper
Welcome to this new blog series where we celebrate the six finalists for our 2018 Texts=Wrecks scholarship. Our second finalist is Katherine Harper, who is 20 and lives in Stone Mountain, Georgia. She is a student at the University of Georgia and is pursuing a degree in Health Promotion and MPH Health Policy and Management. Her story is a heartbreaking one that more people are facing as distracted driving becomes increasingly common.
Distracted driving ultimately leads to death and it is becoming a huge problem in the United States, especially with the innovation of technology. To start, to combat the raging epidemic, I myself can drive intently and remove as many distractions as possible. I eventually want to start a program that works to educate high school students on the dangers of distracted driving. Right now, however, I can combat the epidemic through my own actions as well as encouraging people in my life to drive safely.
For example, if my friend begins to use her smartphone while she is driving, I will ask her to give me her phone—kindly, of course. I am more than happy to text, call, or perform whatever actions she/he feels so urgent to do on their smartphone. In my close circle of friends, we have made a pact to drive with our cell phones in the backseat, turned off, so we eliminate that distraction.
Ding—a text from your mom. Commercial on the radio—change the station. Make a wrong turn—adjust the GPS to recalculate. Comforting aromas—dig into the fast food bag.
All of these are daily occurrences in the lives of most drivers, actions taken without a second thought as to their potential repercussions. I have personally experienced the impacts of distracted driving in my life, as I was in a serious car accident at a young age, which resulted in the death of the individual who crashed into my family.
In the car accident my mom, sister and I experienced, the individual who hit my family was eating a hamburger from McDonald’s and high on cocaine, clearly distracted enough from the road that he ran a red light and rammed my mom’s car. He was so intently focused on consuming his burger and disillusioned from the drugs that the impact of his car caused three of our car’s tires to pop off and his truck to flip, ejecting his body.
Not only did the accident lead to his horrific death, but it also led to a life of financial burden for my family, due to twenty reparative surgeries my sister and I required. My family incurred the vast majority of healthcare costs from the accident because the individual did not have insurance. Not only have the bills greatly impacted our family, but also my sister and I were bullied due to the gruesome appearance of our injuries. Therefore, not only did the one split-second decision to run the red light by the man who hit my family facilitate his death, but it also led to expensive medical bills, surgeries and extreme emotional scarring. The man’s decision to drive distracted has completely revolutionized the course of my entire family’s life.
Due to my deeply personal experience, I am a more cautious driver. I am careful with what I do in the car and limit my distractions as much as possible. However, distracted driving has not personally impacted many drivers. The scars on my face bear testament to the impact car accidents can have, even 15 years after the initial accident. My scars are a prominent component of my face and many people ask questions as to how they came to be and I take every opportunity to discuss my accident and how future accidents can be prevented.
Though the car accident led to many hardships, I have become passionate about promoting safe driving habits, especially to teenagers in the United States, as car accidents are the number one killer for this age group. With my degree in Health Promotion and my passion for safe driving, I would love to start an organization that promotes safe driving habits for teenagers by traveling around the United States to different high schools. I would love to have guest speakers from each state that my organization travels to who have personally experienced the impacts of distracted driving. I believe that through the personal stories of people who have been impacted by distracted driving, whether it be a death or major injury, we can change the future generation of drivers. My dream program would target high school students, especially students who are just learning how to drive or about to get their license. I believe that if we can start teaching and promoting healthy and safe driving habits at a young age, we can save so many lives. If I could go back in time and change what happened in my car accident, I would, but I believe that my personal testimony can help change the lives of many people.
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Prevention, empathy, and diligence are hallmarks of everything we do at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys. Our community can see these ideals lived out in our work to prevent personal injuries from happening.
- Safety Education
GibsonSingleton launches a “Texts=Wrecks” campaign to reduce the number of people injured or killed by distracted drivers.
- Annual Coat Drive
During the fall, our team works to distribute coats to people in need in our community.
- Hands-on Service
John and Ken join the Gloucester Point Rotary Club in cleaning up the community.
- Supporting Local Schools
The Gibson family participates in Gloucester’s Botetourt Elementary Shuffle fundraiser.