Tia Kaschauer, a student at Oakland Catholic High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has been awarded the 2023 Chaffin Luhana Anti-Distracted Driving Scholarship. Her essay powerfully recounts her personal experiences with distracted driving and emphasizes the urgent need to address this issue.
PITTSBURGH, Nov. 3, 2023 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- The Chaffin Luhana Foundation is pleased to announce Tia Kaschauer as the winner of the 2023 Chaffin Luhana Anti-Distracted Driving Scholarship.
Kaschauer attends the Oakland Catholic High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and submitted an essay detailing her personal experience with distracted driving. "At the age of 12," she writes, "my perception of distracted driving was forever altered when my father became a victim of a devastating head-on collision."
Established by law partners Eric Chaffin and Roopal Luhana in 2010, the Chaffin Luhana Foundation has long sought to encourage an end to distracted driving accidents in the U.S. The Anti-Distracted Driving Scholarship—a $2,500 award that the Foundation provides annually—is part of these efforts, and rewards one deserving student based on their essay raising awareness for the dangers of distracted driving.
Students have the option to write about a personal experience with distracted driving, an awareness campaign that would reduce related fatalities, or technological advancements that can impact the rise of distracted driving.
In her winning essay, Kaschauer shared her desire to raise awareness of the issue and to "emphasize the urgency" of addressing it. Her father was hit by another driver who had reached to retrieve his dropped cell phone while navigating a sharp bend in the road. Both vehicles were crushed by the impact. Her father suffered a severe injury as well as a "shattered sense of well-being."
But this wasn't her only experience with this growing problem. Several years later, she was driving herself when another driver sped through a stop sign and crashed into her vehicle.
"In that moment," she writes, "my body became weightless, and I smacked my head, my glasses shattered." The other driver approached the window. Kaschauer asked why the woman had hit her. In a voice tinged with remorse, she uttered the words that pierced through the chaos: "I did not see you; I was distracted."
For Kaschauer, those were haunting words. They made her wonder: Why don't people take distracted driving seriously?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that distracted driving claimed 3,522 lives in 2021. An estimated additional 362,415 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.
Studies show that teens are particularly at risk for being distracted when behind the wheel. The AAA found that driver distraction was responsible for more than 58 percent of teen crashes.
In a survey by Liberty Mutual and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), nearly half of teens (48 percent) reported texting more when alone in their car, while 55 percent reported texting while driving to update their parents.
It's not only teens succumbing to the temptation, however, as is clearly shown in Tia's essay. In 2020, 729 drivers between the ages of 29 and 34 were involved in fatal crashes caused by driver inattention. A study by Brigham and Women's Hospital also showed that millennial-aged parents engaged in riskier distracted driving behavior than older parents, although distraction was prevalent in both age groups.
"Is that text or notification worth jeopardizing lives?" Kaschauer writes.
Chaffin Luhana is thrilled to grant this scholarship to such a thoughtful and engaged student.
"You can't read Ms. Kaschauer's essay without being moved by the experiences she has gone through," said Roopal Luhana, Founding Partner at Chaffin Luhana. "She and her father were seriously affected by this issue, but she didn't sit back and allow herself to remain a victim. On the contrary, she's taking meaningful action to try to improve the situation, which I find particularly admirable."
The Chaffin Luhana law firm has long believed in giving back to the community as part of its mission of "Doing Good by Doing Right™", which according to Kaschauer, "means choosing safety over distractions and making our roads safer for everyone."
"We want to increase awareness of the seriousness of distracted driving by giving students the opportunity to share their experiences in a creative outlet," said Eric Chaffin, Managing Partner of Chaffin Luhana LLP. "It's difficult to choose one winner, as we're always so humbled by the response from these amazing students, but I'm confident that elevating Ms. Kashauer's essay will impact the young adult community. This scholarship award will contribute to the development of a very promising future advocate for safety."
The NHTSA encourages parents to engage in discussions with their teens about safe driving practices, emphasizing the importance of undivided attention while behind the wheel. This includes refraining from using phones, texting, eating, drinking, or grooming while driving.
About The Chaffin Luhana Foundation:
Law partners Eric Chaffin and Roopal Luhana, along with their families, established The Chaffin Luhana Foundation in 2010 to honor their humble roots and build upon the values of integrity and resilience instilled in them by their hardworking parents.
A not-for-profit organization, the Foundation encourages the development of human potential and supports community empowerment through the endowment of funds to deserving recipients, the creation of community-based enrichment projects, and the support of important scientific research that meaningfully impacts the underprivileged and sick in society.
With the goal of fostering acceptance, understanding, and an inclusive and healthy environment for everyone, the Foundation seeks to highlight individuals who are displaying outstanding characteristics in their lives, and bring all walks of life together in ways that invite positive interaction, while rewarding those resilient people willing to face difficult challenges, get back up, and surge forth once again. For more information, please visit ChaffinLuhanaFoundation.org.
About Chaffin Luhana:
Chaffin Luhana LLP is a plaintiffs-only national trial firm focused on representing injured survivors and their families in catastrophic and complex cases. Started by former federal prosecutors Eric Chaffin and Roopal Luhana, the firm is comprised of former state and federal prosecutors, former large defense firm attorneys, former judicial law clerks, and caring and compassionate staff including an in-house social worker. The firm has been appointed by federal and state courts to important national litigations including the 3T Heater-Cooler Litigation, the Transvaginal Mesh Litigation, the Yaz Birth Control Litigation, and the Denture Cream Zinc Poisoning Litigation, the Zantac (Ranitidine) Products Liability Litigation, the Paraquat Products Liability Litigation, and the Hair Relaxer Marketing Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation. With over 200 years of combined legal experience, Chaffin Luhana's attorneys have recovered over $1 billion for their clients nationwide. For more information, please visit ChaffinLuhana.com.
SOURCE Chaffin Luhana LLP