Scholarship Winner 2018 – Chardonnay Richardson

Congratulations to our 2018 winner, Chardonnay Richardson



I’m 19 years old, a sophomore at Michigan State University majoring in Apparel and Textile Design. I’m from Detroit, Michigan. I currently stand at a 3.1. I’m apart of MSU Women of Distinction and modeling for MSU Trendustry Fashion Show. I enjoy drawing, sewing, and hanging out with family and friends.

Essay Prompt:

Texting and driving/distracted driving are among some of the top causes of accidents on our roads. Review your state’s laws on texting and driving. Do you think laws need to be revamped? What invention or device would you invent in order to help lower the temptation to drive while distracted?


I think laws about texting while driving need to be revamped. The Michigan House is considering a bill to ban use of phones while driving unless the drivers are using voice-activated and hands-off technology such as speaker phone or Bluetooth. The bill tries to strike a balance between safety and personal freedom. It’s about keeping driver’s eyes on the road and their hands free of electronic device. Passengers can do whatever they want and drivers can use electronic devices as long as they rely on voice technology vs. looking at the device’s screen. Human error is the leading cause of auto crashes, and distracted driving related to cell phones is a growing issue. Michigan law already prohibits texting while driving. This bill would expand that ban to drivers using a cell phone or other portable electronic device unless the driver is using Bluetooth, speaker phone or other system that is a “voice-operated and hands-free system”.

The bill defines use as a “conducting a search, viewing, taking, or transmitting an image or video, playing games, performing a command or request to access an internet page, and composing, sending, reading, viewing, accessing, browsing, transmitting, saving, or retrieving an e-mail message, text message, instant message or electronic data. The ban would include drivers stopped at a traffic light or stop sign. Drivers could use a hand-held cell phone if they are on the side of the road or otherwise in a location where “they can safety remain stationary”. The bill also would allow drivers to use their hands to turn an electronic device off or on if the device is “mounted on the windshield, dashboard or center console” and if the driver can “activate or deactivate a feature or function with a single swipe or tap of the person’s finger”.

I would create a temporary blocking device that can be plugged into a port on a vehicle’s steering wheel about as easily as a thumb drive. It’s designed to halt incoming texts and other potential wireless distractions as soon as the vehicle moves at 5 mph or faster. Only data for GPS navigational systems and music are allowed to reach the driver’s smartphone. The device blocks other data by alerting the driver’s mobile phone service provider that the vehicle is in motion. Once the vehicle comes to a stop, the device ceases blocking. It can also distinguish the phone of the person who’s driving so that the passenger’s phones aren’t affected. Only technology is going to fix the problem of being distracted by technology.

Another invention I had would be a bright red nylon sleeve lined with a conductive fabric that blocks radio frequencies from reaching cellphones placed inside. The idea behind this is to eliminate the distractions drivers face when a phone rings or pings. A lot of people are not getting in their car proactively wanting to use their cellphone, but when they get that message alert or Snapchat or Facebook message, that dopamine goes off and there is the urge to respond right away. The easy solution is simply turn the devices off, but American just can’t seem to do that. The device is another tool to remind drivers to fight off the urge to pick up their phones to see who is calling or texting. It enhances roadway safety for the driver of that vehicle and others on the road. Once the phone is removed from the sleeve, all voice mails, text messages and app notifications pop up within seconds. This will help with texting while driving and making people more aware what’s in front of them instead of what’s next to them.

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