The team at Patterson Law Group is excited to announce that Addison Stone, a sophomore at Texas Woman’s University, is the winner of our bi-annual #TextFreeForTita Scholarship to fight against distracted driving. She stood out from many entrants with a powerful essay, earning the $1,000 of financial aid towards her education.
An art education major at Texas Woman’s University, Addison has earned is a member in the TWU Honors Scholars program. She currently holds a 3.91 GPA, even while working holding a variety of student work positions and creating art as a commissioned artist for a wide range of buyers. Her high school work as a Kindness Ambassador for the Lewisville Independent School District foreshadowed the impact she will make and is already making in her community, including her advocacy for distraction-free driving.
Though they didn’t know each other, Addison connects that advocacy directly to the tragic incident that led to the passing of Tita Lourdes Shaffer, who inspired the scholarship. Addison received her learner’s permit three months after the accident and was aware of it through friends who attended the Liberty Christian school district. That led to significant intimidation of driving for Addison but over time, that intimidation has turned into advocacy for safer driving in Texas.
Distracted driving continues to be a significant, and fatal, problem in Texas. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, more than 97,000 car crashes were caused by distracted drivers in 2019, leading to almost 400 deaths and more than 2,500 serious injuries.
In her essay titled Everything’s Bigger in Texas, Addison adds an important variable to this already serious issue. As she points out from her own experience,
As a Houston Chronicle article last year pointed out, even though total traffic decreased on Texas roads following the onset of the pandemic, speed-related accidents actually increased. In the eight-county Houston area, for instance, fatal crashes dropped by 19 percent between March 12 and May 31, 2020-but speed-related fatal crashes actually rose by 13 from the same period in 2019.
The Texas Department of Transportation has outlined specific procedures for determining safe speed limits depending on road layouts and conditions. However, those regulations can still lead to dangerous conditions for teenage drivers like Addison, who are just getting used to the conditions on the road. Distracted driving only multiplies the dangers inherent within these situations, causing potential serious harm and even death for drivers who follow all the rules.
One number that stood out to Addison was the fact that in 2016, the year of Tita’s passing and her learner’s permit, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association released a report stating that 1,100 people in Texas alone were killed due to speed-related accidents-the highest number in the nation. That number could cause many new drivers to freeze. For the newest scholarship winner, it led to action:
As a result, she has begun to advocate for a “Golden Rule”-type driving mentality: treating others on the road as you would like to be treated. She now goes through a regular checklist before getting in the car that includes a plan to arrive early, entering the destination into her GPS before departure, and selecting her favorite playlist before leaving her parking spot to eliminate unnecessary distractions. These simple steps can make a major difference.
Addison also advocates for the implementation of a highway safety initiative that stresses the same Golden Rule principles. Her goal is ambitious: to play a part in helping Texas achieve the highest safety rating among teenage drivers.
Like Addison, Patterson Law Group wishes to encourage responsible driving habits for citizens of all ages. We are pleased to offer this award as another means of spreading the word of the danger of texting or performing any other action while driving and simultaneously providing an outstanding student the opportunity to earn assistance toward the cost of higher education.
The #TextFreeForTita Scholarship is designed to create public awareness of the increasingly prolific danger of distracted driving. One in five traffic deaths in Texas is caused by a distracted driver despite laws against it. It was created to honor Emma “Tita” Lourdes Shaffer, who lost her life in a car accident caused by a distracted driver. On April 6, 2016, her mother was driving her home from dinner when their car was struck head-on by another driver, who was distracted by typing non-urgent text messages. Tita was 12 at the time of her death, a thoughtful 6th grader with a bright future ahead of her.
The bi-annual contest offers a full-time student entering or attending an accredited university or law school in the US the opportunity to earn a $1,000.00 financial aid award toward college or law school tuition, as well as related educational expenses. Eligible students can enter the contest by completing their application, showcasing their creativity to help reduce the number of distracted driving deaths, by May 31 for the spring contest or December 31 for the fall contest.
Fortunately, deaths due to distracted driving are preventable. Creative ways to educate everyone of the danger, including small prompts like those outlined by Allison, can go a long way towards lessening the hazard and creating safer roads for everyone. Congratulations, Addison. We appreciate all you do to keep yourself and others safe on the road, turning your apprehension about safe driving into positive advocacy and a drive for change.