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Ignite, Innovate, and Inspire Challenge: Second-place essay

US2020 RTP‘s “RTPi3: Ignite, Innovate, and Inspire Challenge” essay contest was open to high school students in five Innovate NC communities: Asheville, Greensboro, Pembroke, Wilmington, and Wilson. Students were asked, “If you had no obstacles and unlimited resources in pursuing a STEM career, how would you ignite an idea, show great innovation or inspire someone else? How would you make a difference in your community?” The author of the winning essay receives a $2500 technology package of Microsoft products and the second-place winner receives a tablet and headphones. This week, EdNC will feature the second- and first-place essays.

If there were no obstacles and my resources were unlimited, I would change the world by increasing the life span of our teens. I’m sure you’ve known or have heard of someone in your school, your neighborhood, your place of work or religious community who has lost their lives due to texting while driving. Despite the many public service announcements, gym assemblies, and family discussions, texting and driving has become the leading cause of U.S. teen deaths. Communication methods have changed with our growing society thanks to technology; however, I believe technology can also address time appropriate texting (TAT) in a significant way.

How would this work? A TAT device/chip. This chip, which responds to movement, will be placed on the wheel of the vehicle as well as the back of the teen’s cell phone. If the phone is within 30 inches or the distance to the radio and the vehicle is moving, the TAT device will signal to the chip on the driver’s phone that it is not the appropriate time to text or receive texts. Although the option to call or receive calls will not be interrupted, texting and the receipt of texting will not be available for use. No worries though, the TAT chip recognizes when the vehicle is not in movement and will resume once appropriate. This will only affect the driver of the vehicle. My hopes…it will produce a healthy and life changing habit that allows family and friends to celebrate one another, here on earth, a lot longer.

How would I propose this idea? I would present this idea with passion recognizing I cannot do this alone. This will only work with the help of our government to make it mandatory for teen drivers (I suggest up to five years). Both the parent(s)/legal guardian and their teen will be required to look at a video of the purpose and importance of the TAT chip at the Department of Motor Vehicles office and sign a document indicating their understanding of and willingness to abide by this law prior to the issuance of the teen’s permit. In addition, TAT will be placed under the restricted section of their permit and later their driver’s license.

Futuristically, I even see the automobile industry and wireless providers installing the TAT chip inside the wheel of every vehicle and the inside of every cell phone produced. I’m almost certain we (the teens) will remind our parents of the dangers if they attempt to text and drive. We would like to give them an opportunity to slow down and enjoy the ride also. The TAT device will help shape our neighborhood, our county, our city, our state, and ultimately the world into a safer place. Making a difference begins with a choice. Let’s choose life.

RTPi3 Series

Wednesday: RTPi3: Ignite, Innovate, and Inspire Challenge

Thursday: Ignite, Innovate, and Inspire Challenge: Second-place essay

Friday: Ignite, Innovate, and Inspire Challenge: First-place essay

Lauren Elwood

Lauren Elwood is senior at Southeast Guilford High School.