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The following comes via Elizabeth Ryan, a Sophomore at Park View High School in Sterling, VA

Sometimes I like to think, if it weren’t for the things that have happened to us in life, then we wouldn’t have made it to where we are today. But not only that, it also comes down to who you are and how you’re portrayed as a person; what decisions you have made in life; and how you treat others. It’s okay to take risks once in a while, whether your betting to see who will win the game, or who comes up with a solution first; there’s a couple of things I could tell you that I know for fact are not worth risking. One of them is your life.

If it weren’t for the people I have met in my life and have come to made relationships with, then the good Lord knows where I might be. IKnowEverything, Act Out Loud, and the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) have changed my life forever! But before I even knew about these three wonderful organizations I really have my PE teacher and the Extra Mile Club (a volunteer club at my high school) to thank. If it wasn’t for them, I’d probably be like every other American right now committing the crime of reckless driving.

It’s so hard to stress to my peers just how important their life is to me. When I am talking to someone and they tell me that they have used their cell phone while driving it just breaks my heart to know that they have put themselves and others around them in danger. No matter how many statistics I can throw in their face, it’s really up to them to learn their lesson in all of it. I just hope it doesn’t end up with them losing their life for their lesson to be learned. As my dad always tells me “I want my children to bury me before I bury them.” I believe all parents can agree on this. No parent ever wants to bury their child before they leave this earth. However if technology keeps distracting us while we’re on the road, (it breaks my heart to say this but) that saying could strike reality to some if they don’t put their phone away and keep their eyes on the road.

Now I know you might be thinking, “What does a 16 year old sophomore in high school know about life? She hasn’t even fully experienced it yet.” Well I can tell you one thing, if I keep myself safe from the dangerous temptations around me, then I will fully experience life to tell you twenty or thirty years later in life what I do know; because at least I can say I lived to tell you what good happened. I could hopefully tell you I lived because I wasn’t replying to someone texting me in the moment while I was driving. I lived because I wasn’t drinking at a party underage and thought I was sober enough to risk my life and others to drive home. When I knew in the back of my mind if I called my parents, I would be home safe. I lived because I wasn’t allowing my friend to drive me home, intoxicated or texting while driving. I lived because I knew how to avoid these things. I lived because there was an opportunity given to me to go to a NOYS conference in December of 2012; and I took that opportunity that led me to where I am now and where I will be in the future - safe, alert, and always distraction free driving on the road.

I guess you can say I was at the right place at the right time when this all started, or else I wouldn’t be blogging this now. But if someone recommended this article to you, or you happen to stumble upon it by chance; then you are now at the right place at the right time.  Because you have just witnessed the impact that being at the right place at the right time has had on me. You can now say you’ve witnessed this article; you can now say you have lived another day longer. I just want you to say “I will drive safely,” and mean it. You can see how much a simple recommendation to go to a summit over the weekend way back in December of 2012 has impacted me. My only hope is that I have put a positive change of thought on how you drive onto you. I am proud to say IKnowEverything about safe driving. Do you?