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Fall 2022 Award Winner: One Tough Student Scholarship

Matt Johnson, Fall 2022 Award Winner

Matt Johnson

Matt’s essay demonstrates his creativity and impressive writing skills. His essay is well researched and provides an inventive idea for preventing drunk driving. He hopes to use the connections and platform he has as a student-athlete and role model to be a positive influence on his friends, peers, and classmates to not drive under the influence.

Read Matt's Essay:

I believe that drunk driving accidents can be reduced at a societal level through the use of new breathalyzer technology implemented in key fobs for people’s cars. I did some very brief research on the topic to bolster the knowledge I have, and as a result, I found that on a daily basis, 1“about 32 people die in the United States in drunk-driving crashes” (NHTSA). That seems like a small number, but when you think about the impact, it’s really not. That number represents people’s kids, fathers, mothers, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, and friends – lives that aren’t given a second chance after they pass away.

My idea is simple, but I believe that it’ll be very effective if implemented properly and supported with the necessary resources it takes to put an idea like this into fruition. My idea is this: a breathalyzer component should be mandated, by law, to be implemented into key fob designs and models at all automobile manufacturers. The component would force people to test their blood alcohol levels (BAC) before they’re allowed to move the gear shift of their vehicles. It would be restrictive in the sense that users would be able to unlock, enter, start their engines, and re-lock their vehicles, but they wouldn’t be permitted to move the gear shift until they’ve proved that their blood alcohol level is at a safe enough level for them to pilot the vehicle. For brevity reasons (in regard to the essay requirements), the only counter-argument I’ll list for this idea is that some states like Alaska and Arizona, for example, have zero-tolerance laws, while some other states do not. Therefore, interstate regulation could be a problem that doesn’t bode well with this technology. Other than that, I think this idea would be practical, feasible, and effective in regard to reducing the amount of drunk driving accidents at a societal level.

On a more personal level, there are a couple steps, in particular, that I can take to help prevent drunk driving in my community. For one, I’m a football student-athlete at Virginia Tech, so I’m immersed in both the athletic side of the university, and the academic side. I mention that to say that I get the opportunity to engage and connect with a lot of people on a regular basis. Through these connections, I can use those opportunities to consistently educate people on the importance of ensuring that those around you are being responsible and refusing to drink and drive. Another step I can take is to simply set a good example for those around me to follow. At the collegiate level, especially, people’s actions are often influenced by those of others; people are either following good, positive leaders, or they are following ones that are negatively influencing their actions. So, speaking for my community, it’s very important that we have leaders that represent qualities that will positively impact others.

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