McKiggan Hebert Awards Scholarship to Raise Awareness of Dangers of Distracted Driving

by John McKiggan

Distracted Driving a Growing Danger

Distracted driving is now the number one cause of deaths on Nova Scotia highways. In order to raise awareness of the dangers of Distracted Driving, McKiggan Hebert Lawyers has created an annual scholarship for a Canadian student who demonstrates academic excellence and a commitment to end distracted driving.

I have been a volunteer with, a nonprofit focused on ending distracted driving, for several years. My legal practice is dedicated exclusively to representing those who have suffered personal injurys. Many of those clients have suffered injury in car accidents caused by distracted driving.

As lawyers who regularly work with victims of car accidents, we know all too well about the dangers of distracted driving. To help more young people understand how dangerous distracted driving can be, my partner Brian Hebert and I wanted to create more awareness of this issue while also helping to support one student’s dreams of higher education.

Brian Hebert added:

“At McKiggan Hebert Lawyers, we are committed to providing a smooth road ahead for drivers and for students interested in furthering their education.”

2015 Distracted Driving Scholarship Winner

Havers We are pleased to announce that the winner of McKiggan Hebert Lawyers’s 2015 End Distracted Driving $1000.00 Scholarship is Nicole Havers. Nicole comes from British Columbia and attends Acadia University in Wolfville Nova Scotia where she majors in English.

We liked Nicole’s essay because it identified just how common distracted driving is and how many of us engage in distracted driving without even knowing it. Nicole’s experience with distracted driving lead to changing her behaviour and trying to raise awareness of the issue with her friends and family.

As Nicole said in her essay:

“I will keep reminding myself and those close to me that distracted driving is serious, and the consequences are a reality.”

My Experience With Distracted Driving: Nicole H.

When I think about it, almost everybody in my life that I have seen drive has done so while being distracted at one point or another. My parents would eat or drink a cup of coffee at the wheel regularly, friends would talk, adjust the radio and occasionally text or call. I never thought about it as being an issue, I thought it was something people were able to manage, like it was the same as multitasking in any other way. However, something happened a couple of years ago that changed the way I think about distracted driving.

In high school, I had a friend who was in a few ofmy classes. We were not close friends, but we spent a fair amount of time together. She was not very good at writing essays for our history class, so I would often meet with her to help out. She seemed like a regular, responsible, kind person. To me, she didn’t seem like the type of person to take risks or behave dangerously. That was why I was so surprised when I found out that she had been in a car accident.

Apparently, my friend had been looking for a song on her iPod, which was plugged into her car stereo. It was something I had seen others do once or twice with no consequences. This time, though, was different. My friend had looked away from the road just long enough not to see a dog that had run out in front of her vehicle. When she looked up, she explained later, the dog was only a few feet away, and she was going too fast to stop in time. She swerved out of the way of the dog, but ended up losing control and crashing into a telephone pole. Luckily, her parents, who had a significant amount of money, had bought her a brand new car with all of the safety features for her sixteenth birthday. The car was totalled, but my friend got away from the crash with whiplash, some bruises and scratches, and of course, a large dose of shock.

After hearing this story, a feeling of terror, surprise, and relief came over me. Terror because she quite possibly could have been hurt badly or killed, surprise because I didn’t expect the act of choosing a song to result in a crash like that, and relief because she was okay, and so was I and everyone else I knew who drove while distracted. It made me realize that something like what had happened to my friend, or something much worse, could happen to someone close to me, or myself. I’m guilty of sipping coffee, playing with the radio, or checking my phone while behind the wheel a few times. I realized that myself and almost every driver I knew took deadly risks on a regular basis. Before they became a reality to me, the dangers of distracted driving were not something I thought about. In fact, they almost seemed silly to me, since I hadn’t known anyone who hadn’t gotten away with it.

When I found out that my friend could have been severely injured or even killed, it became clear to me that that was the case for everyone who has ever been distracted while behind the wheel. Whenever myself or someone else let their eyes wander away from the road, they were taking an enormous chance, a chance that isn’t worth a bite of a burger, or a text.

Today, I try my best to keep my eyes on the road whenever I drive. As a passenger, I remind the person driving to do the same. I probably come off as a little bit annoying, but I think that it is worth it if I can help ensure the safety of everyone in the car. Of course, it was awful what my high school friend had to go through, but at the same time, that crash gave me a much needed wakeup call. I do not know where me, my friends, and family would be if my perspective on this issue had never changed. Maybe everything would be the same, but it is possible that things would be drastically and tragically different. That is why I will keep reminding myself and those close to me that distracted driving is serious, and the consequences are a reality.

Since the accident in high school, I have graduated, and have now finished the second year of a Bachelor’s degree in English at Acadia University. I’m very much enjoying my time here at this school, and work hard every day of the academic year to achieve what I think is my best. I am currently working hard in multiple positions at the Student’s Union, and in the future would like my academic career to lead to a career in editing.

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