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Breonna Hughes, a senior at Clover Hill High School, remembers every vivid detail of seeing her father in his hospital room on the day he was involved in a car accident caused by a distracted driver. It is because of that difficult day that she has vowed to never text and drive.
On Friday, August 28, McGeorge Toyota and DRIVE SMART Virginia presented her with a $15,000 scholarship for school because of the courage it took her to write about her family’s experience.
In March 2014, Hughes’ father was struck by a distracted driver while helping a police officer stuck in snow on the side of Midlothian Turnpike and lost both of his legs above the knee. In her winning essay, chosen out of 300 entries, Hughes wrote: “My family’s life has been changed forever and I never want to be the cause of something like this to another family.”
“Breonna is a true leader in the movement to end distracted driving,” said Bob Farlow, general manager of McGeorge Toyota. “We, along with DRIVE SMART Virginia, are very honored to help her and her family and to make her college dreams come true.”
The Saving Lives, Supporting Futures Scholarship program was developed earlier this year after members of McGeorge Toyota and DRIVE SMART Virginia began discussing ways to increase awareness of a problem that causes more than 3,000 deaths and 400,000 injuries annually (NHTSA).
About McGeorge Toyota Since 1968, McGeorge Toyota & Scion has been the home to central Virginia’s largest inventory and more than 100,000 customers. The dealership is located at 9319 W. Broad St, Richmond, VA. McGeorge Toyota has 14 Master Certified Toyota Sales Professionals, eight Master Certified Toyota Technicians and sits on 9-acres of land. The dealership recently won its 19th consecutive Toyota President’s Award, which demonstrates the company’s commitment to serving the community and its more than 250 employees. Additional information about the Company is available at McGeorgeToyota.com.
About DRIVE SMART Virginia DRIVE SMART Virginia, founded in 1995, is a 501c3 nonprofit charged with raising awareness and changing behavior in order to improve the safety of the roadways of the Commonwealth. Find out more information at www.drivesmartva.org.
Read Breonna Hughes’ essay:
McGeorge Toyota Scholarship Essay
At 16, what does every teenager have on their mind? Most have getting their license or figuring out who to invite to their sweet sixteen party. However, I had planning the trip of a lifetime as a priority; I was getting ready to embark on a trip to Ireland to perform in a parade on St. Patrick’s day with my high school’s band. Little did I know that distracted driving would change the course of not only the trip, but my entire life.
On March 17, 2014, we performed in the parade, had a great night on the town, and got to experience Ireland at its finest. At 2am, my mom woke up to a phone call from my grandmother. I awoke not knowing what was going on or what time it was, but I could feel the panic and worry in the room. At that point I knew something was wrong. My mom informed me that we needed to go home as soon as possible. I assumed that the whole band needed to leave, but then she told me that only the two of us had to go home. As of that moment all I knew was that my dad had been in an accident and we had to fly 3,424 miles back home.
After spending hours on planes getting home, we made it back to reality and I had to face what was to come. Once we got to the hospital, I found out what really happened to my dad. When I got into the ICU I saw my dad lying there with wires and tubes all around him. There were nurses and monitors at every corner of the tiny room. After hearing the news from my mom and dad and the very friendly nurses, I had to come to terms with the fact that my dad had lost both of his legs above the knee due to a distracted driver. I never knew how many tears a person could cry within the span of a few hours.
The past year and a half have consisted of daily hospital visits for the month my dad was there, months of home physical therapy and then outpatient therapy three days a week, house construction to widen doors and make the house more adaptable for my dad, a whirlwind of emotions, and tears. My dad has had to learn how to adapt to life’s daily routine in a whole new way. My family’s life was changed in an instant because of one person who made the choice to look away from the road for a few seconds and become distracted. Distracted driving is something that has become a more common thing for drivers. If you are stopped at a stoplight and look at the person next to you it is likely you will see them on their phone texting or checking their Facebook, looking at themselves in the mirror, or fixing the radio. Distracted driving is more than texting and driving.
The definition of distracted driving is “the practice of driving a motor vehicle while engaged in another activity.” Therefore applying your makeup, adjusting the air conditioner, eating, talking on the phone or to the passenger in the car, trying to calm down two kids in the backseat who won’t stop arguing over who gets the last piece of the snack, and even checking out the house on the side of the road that just went up for sale all fall under the definition of distracted driving. It is something that most people can admit to and say they have done. Every person who has a license or learner’s permit needs to make a conscious effort to pay attention to the road at all times. It is one of the many things I vow to never do while I drive, but I can’t be the only one who vows to never do these things. If one person promises to try and change the way they act when they drive and teach it to their family members and friends, the amount of accidents and careless mistakes can drop immensely.
Overall, my life throughout these past seventeen months has been a roller coaster ride because of a distracted driver, this experience has taught me things I would have never realized if it had never happened. My family’s life has been changed forever and I never want to be the cause of something like this to another family. In consequence this is why I promise to never text and drive.