Kendall Schoenekase, Miss Kansas Photo credit - Kristy Belcher Photography
By Kendall Schoenekase
Two years ago, I was a victim in a car crash caused by texting and driving. I am not alone. Every year, over 4,000 teens are killed, and another 438,000 people are injured in crashes that are preventable. In an age where technology provides a variety of mobile devices, we are facing epidemic acts of negligence behind the wheel.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has determined driving while texting is six times more dangerous than drunk driving. In fact, five seconds is the average time eyes are taken off the road when texting. At 55 miles per hour, it’s enough time to cover the length of a football field, virtually blindfolded, according to distraction.gov. With 660,000 drivers manipulating electronic devices while behind the wheel at any given moment, the life of every individual on, or around our roads can be impacted in an instant.
My first-hand experience was not a tragic one, rather, it was an eye-opening moment, proving to me that NO ONE is safe when a driver is texting. A crash can happen at ANY moment, to ANY person. Just to lay it all out on the table, I, too, used to give into the temptation of technology, using my phone while driving. But I had to learn the hard way, experiencing how in the blink of an eye my life could have been stripped away.
I pledged that day to never pick up my phone while behind the wheel again. In addition, I made it a personal mission to educate others on the dangers of such actions so they don’t have to learn the hard way. Not only did I experience this first hand as a victim, I relive those moments frequently as a registered nurse, often providing medical care to others hospitalized due to texting and driving crashes.
As a survivor, a driver and a compassionate nurse, I am taking action to change these statistics and save lives. I am committed to defeating the most dangerous distraction that drivers face today with my three-step action plan - Educate, Engage, Legislate: The Kansan’s Care Campaign. Through the Kansans Care Campaign and my three-step action plan, I will continue to reach thousands around the country.
Too many people have been affected by texting and driving. It is crucial for people of all ages to understand the risks, dangers, and consequences of their actions in order to change attitudes and behaviors regarding texting while driving.
Kendall Schoenekase was named Miss Kansas 2016 on June 11