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Murphy Law Firm’s High School Scholarship Winner

…And Please Enjoy Abigail’s WINNING ESSAY on:

A Fatal Distraction

Cell phones are a keystone in our technologically driven world. Teenagers such as myself are extremely influenced by their cell phones. It seems we spend more than half of our day on our cell phones. We have become so dependent on our phones, that when we are away from them for more than a minute we become anxious and irritable. This dependency on our cellular devices does have its benefits, such as receiving important news within seconds, being able to contact someone in a matter of minutes and having access to loads of information at our fingertips. However, with this benefit of instant information gratification, we also are burdened with the dangerous and deadly side effect of distraction. One of the most dangerous distractions is texting while driving. Texting while driving is the leading cause of death among teenagers according to the Center of Disease Control . We must work together as a community to reduce the staggering number of teen deaths and injuries due to this deadly distraction.

Paying attention and staying focused while driving are the most important things a teenage driver must lean. According to, the risk of being involved or responsible for an accident are twenty three times higher just by picking up your phone and responding or reading a message. The distraction of hearing your phone sound off for an incoming message can be intoxicating for any driver, more so for technology obsessed teenagers. Statistics show that more teens die from texting and driving each year than teens who drink and drive according to Stuart Miles’ 2013 web article, More U.S. Teens Killed Texting While Driving Than Dinking (Miles). Miles states that approximately eighteen thousand more teenagers suffer

injuries due to texting while driving than teenagers who are injured in drinking while driving related accidents, and three thousand more teenagers are killed in texting while driving related accidents than drinking while driving accidents.

Due to the fact that simply silencing your cell phones and putting them out of reach is hard for some teenagers, many states and corporate companies have stepped in and have started programs in an effort to reduce the accidents caused by texting and driving. Almost all of the states in the United States including Washington D.C. have made texting while driving illegal and punish drivers under the age of eighteen more severely. The state of Georgia, for example, places more points on the licenses of drivers who are minors which can lead to the possibility of their license being revoked. On top of that, the state of Georgia also places heavier fees and possible jail time if a teenage driver is caught texting and driving. The mobile service provider AT&T has a feature that comes standard on all of their Android smartphones and can also be downloaded on other smartphone devices serviced by AT&T called DriveMode. DriveMode is an application that blocks incoming calls and replies to incoming texts if the device goes over thirty-five miles per hour. It sends a reply to the caller or the sender that the user is driving and cannot use the device. DriveMode automatically switches off if the phone goes under thirty-five miles per hour after a certain amount of time.

Car manufacturing companies have also started to design their cars in order to prevent texting and driving accidents directed towards teenagers. Ford unveiled a program called SYNC which allows the driver to use the voice-to-text function on their cell phones to send messages, have messages read aloud to them, receive calls and block calls through Bluetooth. Many companies have followed Ford’s example and now cars made by Mopar, Honda, Toyota and General Motors have a similar feature to SYNC called CarPlay, which currently only works for

Apple phones. Toyota has developed a lane departure technology that alerts the driver if the vehicle senses that the car is drifting out of the lane, which is where teens who text and drive spend approximately ten per cent of their time according to Other companies have started to use the lane departure technology in the manufacturing of their newer models.

Because we have become extremely dependent on our cell phones, we cannot seem to put our out of reach. This obsession has a direct connection to the fact that more teenagers die each year from texting and driving than from drinking while driving. Many teens have the mentality that we are invincible, and do not think about the risks we put ourselves and others in when we pick up the phone and send a simple message. We may view it as unfair that many states have made texting and driving illegal with the punishment for teenage drivers more harsh. We may not appreciate the benefits of the programs developed by companies such as AT&T that prevent teens from using their phones while driving, but we know our parents do. Texting while driving is an epidemic that impacts everyone and it must be ended. To do so, we must work together as a whole to stop the deaths and injuries caused by all drivers, especially teens, by continuing to implement new technologies and legal repercussions.

References (n.d.). 11 Fact About Texting and Driving. Retrieved from

Miles, S. (2013, May 12). More U.S. Teens Killed Texting While Driving Than Drinking. Retrieved June 26, 2017

Minino, A. M. (2010). Mortality Among Teenagers Aged 12-19 Years: United States, 1999-2006. NCHS Data Breif, 1-8. Retrieved from Center for Disease Control.


Meet Abigail Schintzius… Future Sports Medicine MD!

Abigail and her entire family came decked in Mississippi State University shirts the day that they came to Murphy Law Firm to pick up Abigail’s $500 scholarship. She just graduated from Lithia Springs High School in Douglasville, GA, just a month before winning the scholarship, and was days away from starting her journey at Mississippi State University. 

A brief interview with Abigail gave us a peek into the superstar’s life:

Murphy Law Firm: Tell us about your goals and dreams. Where do you want to be in five years?

Abigail: To graduate college with honors. I change my major in my mind all the time. So, my goal is to graduate college with honors.

Murphy Law Firm: Where are you going to school?

Abigail: (Laughs) Mississippi State University. We are all wearing the shirts.

Murphy Law Firm: We see that! So, what is your major at the moment?

Abigail: Right now? It’s sports medicine.

Murphy Law Firm: Interesting field. Why sports medicine?

Abigail: I love watching football, and I’ve always been interested in it.

Murphy Law Firm: Really? That’s so great! Who is your favorite team?

Abigail: MSU.

Murphy Law Firm: (laughing) Can’t say we are too surprised there. So getting right to it, you did a phenomenal job on your essay, and your final report card was very impressive. What helped you get through the hurdles of high school to become an achiever?

Abigail: Both my parents pushing me. I did IB for two years. In my junior year, I dropped out of IB, and then in my senior year, I was so ahead because of IB, I did dual enrollment with Georgia Highlands College, and was able to get high school and college credits at the same time. My parents really pushed me with my school work, and that helped me.

Murphy Law Firm: Sounds like your parents were a driving force for you. If you could tell them one thing, what would you say?

Abigail: I’d thank them for getting me through everything, and for pushing me.

Murphy Law Firm: That’s so great. They did a great job, and so did you. Speaking of which, we wanted to discuss your essay on distracted driving. What did you learn from the essay?

Abigail: Honestly, I learned a lot. What shocked me the most was the number of people affected by texting and driving. I mean, I am really good about not texting and driving, but I’m even more resolved not to do so after seeing what has happened to other people. 

Murphy Law Firm: So, what do you do to keep yourself from picking up the phone while driving?

Abigail: Usually I keep my phone on the charger, and I don’t use it for anything other than music. My steering wheel has features so that I can control my music from there. I also have Bluetooth technology which helps if I need to call one of my parents. I won’t text though.

Murphy Law Firm: Well, we are going to hold you to it!

Abigail: My mom has an app too, called Live360, which she also installed on my phone. It sends her reports about my driving, and whether or not I’m using the phone to call or text. I didn’t like it at first, but now I do, because it’s helped me really improve my driving.

Murphy Law Firm: Wow. That sounds like a pretty cool app!

Abigail’s Mom: Yeah, I really like the app. It tells me if she does any sudden breaking, if she is speeding, her location, and when she gets home, and if she calls or texts anyone. You do have to pay for the reports though.

Murphy Law Firm: Well, awesome. We will have to tell our readers about it too for their teenagers. I want to thank all of you for coming in and interviewing with us. I can’t wait to share your essay with the world, and we wish you the best of luck at MSU!