By Joyce Lee, 17, La Cañada HS
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Joyce thinks that driving is a convenience, but it must be taken seriously for everyone to stay safe.

I wake up on Saturday morning and get in the car with my mom. It’s our shopping day and I’m excited. As my mom turns on the engine and begins to drive, her phone rings.

“Auugh Joyce, will you please turn on that no-hand cell phone thingy? It’s your aunt … you know how she gets when I don’t answer.”

I turn on the device and my mom begins to speak.


“Mom! Mom! Watch out for the car in front of you!”

My mom swerves to the left and barely misses the car she hadn’t noticed in front of us. I sit in the passenger seat, wide-eyed and unable to speak. My mom’s hands are shaking, too.

“Oh. My. Goodness. I’m so sorry, Joyce. You OK?”

I exhale and nod. Every muscle in my body had tensed. I honestly thought we were going to hit that car.

Illustration by Francisco Sandoval, 16, Nogales HS (La Puente)

The cell phone law that went into effect this past July states that adult drivers must use a hands-free device when talking on the phone and driving. And drivers under 18 cannot use a cell phone to talk or text while driving. Though the law is a good idea, it isn’t effective, because everyone I know still uses their phones.

After the restrictions went into effect my mom purchased a hands-free device. It allows her to hear and speak through a small box attached to her visor. It is supposed to make it safer for drivers to talk and drive at the same time because they aren’t holding the phone in their hands. Even though my mother has a hands-free device, it isn’t very user-friendly. I often hear my mom yelling into the box because the person on the other end cannot hear her well. Because my mom focuses so much on having the other person hear her, she sometimes doesn’t concentrate on the road.

My friends still use their phones while they’re driving and get just as distracted. Of course, when it’s my mom, I feel safer because she is a more experienced driver. However, in both cases I don’t feel completely safe.

My friend tried to hide his call

One Sunday, my friend Brian was taking me home and his phone rang. It was his mom. He quickly lowered his head to the right, away from the window, and hid his phone with his hair. “School is pretty tough, now that I’m working longer hours … I think I really need some time off. How is everything with—”

Brian was so consumed with making sure no one could see him talking on his phone that he wasn’t concentrating on driving.

SCCRREEEECCHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Brian quickly veered toward the center divider to avoid the huge truck on our right. He had gone almost completely into the truck’s lane. The car skidded to a stop.

I felt my lungs tightening, but I was still holding my breath. My hands clutched my seatbelt. My heartbeat was so loud it rang in my ears. I thanked God for keeping me alive.

I don’t think the teen cell phone ban is effective. Most of the people I know disregard it. They still text and talk on the phone. The law also has the potential to cause more damage than to help keep the roads safe. When a driver bends their neck to answer their phone, I wonder how good of a driver they can be while straining their body so much. The way my friends text message with one hand makes me nervous. Sometimes if they receive a text, they stop at a red light, respond, and then drive.

People get away with it

Though many people I know use their phones while driving, they haven’t gotten a ticket yet. I wonder how much longer their luck will last. The fact that they haven’t been caught makes me question the effectiveness of the law.

I am about to get my driver’s license. Since I have my permit, I drive with one of my parents.  I often see other drivers talking on their cell phones. I don’t feel safe when I see this and I become extra cautious when I drive near them. I am often tempted to check my text messages while driving, but I decide against it; it’s hard enough focusing on the road and the other cars around me without trying to work my phone.

Just as I want to feel safe when others are driving, I want my passengers to know that I am serious about keeping them safe. When I get my license and drive without my parents, I want to make sure that the people in my car feel safe and secure. In order to do this, I will not use my phone while I drive. I don’t want to be that driver who always has to answer the phone. I don’t want to be ducking to the side to answer my phone or text messaging with one hand and driving with the other.

I wish that drivers would refrain from using their cell phones while driving. There isn’t a way to catch every law breaker, but please, fellow drivers, do what’s right even when no one’s looking.