2nd Place - Marshall Perfetti

Marshall Perfetti

I opened my eyes to a blinding brightness. Nothing was distinguishable, and the ringing in my ears was louder than the blaring sirens of the ambulance. It hurt to breathe; it hurt to speak; it hurt to move.

Everything was ready; in twenty-four hours, I would touch down in Charlottesville, VA and begin my college career at The University of Virginia. Prior to leaving home, I wanted to say goodbye to my friends. My father was in the U.S. Army at the time, so I knew that if I didn’t visit my friends to wish them well, I would most likely not see them again for many years. There was only one person left on my list of goodbyes. We decided to meet on the military base for lunch. I told my mother I would be back in an hour, and then everything went black.

Waking up in an ambulance with my mother by my side was terrifying. I tried my best to remember what had happened, but I could not muster the concentration needed for recollection. My head was pounding like a drum as the paramedics wheeled me into the hospital. MRI, CAT Scan, tubes coming in and out – everything was a blur. I must have fallen asleep during the process because when I finally came to, I saw my family crying next to my hospital bed.

My mother explained that I wasn’t even half a mile away from my house when an elderly woman ran a red light at a crosswalk and hit me. The woman was in the car with her son, who was reading her a text from his phone.

The doctors concluded that I had sustained four fractures in my zygomaticus, a concussion and internal blood loss in my liver. Due to the internal bleeding, I could not eat solid food and had to receive IV nourishment during my week-long hospital stay. I lost fifteen pounds.

John Locke’s Social Contract Theory essentially states that citizens of a given country must give up some rights in order to be afforded specific privileges by their government. The privilege of driving cars on state-built roads comes at the price of respecting anti-distraction rules. Sorrow is often unavoidable in life. Illness and personal injury can be difficult to prevent. However, death and harm caused by distracted driving is something over which we can exercise control.

The approach to minimizing traffic accidents should be threefold: (1) publicize the stories of victims in an effort to raise awareness of possible damages; (2) spread reliable statistics related to traffic caused by distracted driving; (3) local, state, and federal governments should implement strict punishments distracted drivers who create problems for others. By spreading anecdotes and factual data, drivers will hopefully foster a sense of responsibility when behind the wheel. Moreover, strict punishments outlined by ruling parties will ensure the best interest of each citizen indiscriminately, and will be a classic example of the Social Contract Theory in practice. Through the unrelenting implementation of these three actions, stories like mine will hopefully become a rarity.