Read our 2023 Dirk Derrick Car & Truck Accident Injury Scholarship Winner, Mia Dougherty's story below: 

Mia Dougherty 2023 Dirk Derrick Car Truck Accident Scholarship
On June 25th, 2020, I became a statistic when I was injured in a devastating distracted driving incident. Little did I know that this life-altering event would lead me to embark on a personal initiative aimed at raising awareness and preventing similar accidents from happening. More than 425,000 accidents are caused by distracted driving a year. These include texting, talking, or using apps while behind the wheel. Any activity done while driving is dangerous, as it diverts your attention from the road. While riding my bike to visit friends and go swimming, I approached a crossroad and noticed a truck approaching. Mindful of the stop sign, I stopped and observed the truck slowing down. I was confident that it was safe to proceed so I began crossing. However, the driver continued coming towards me, completely unaware of my presence until the moment of impact. As I lay on the ground, pain searing through my body, the driver promptly dialed 911. An ambulance soon arrived and I was rushed to the hospital.

In that moment of fear and uncertainty, all I wanted was to see my parents. As a competitive dancer, this injury not only shattered my physical well-being but also disrupted my passion and dreams. The road to recovery was long and difficult, requiring months of rehabilitation and countless hours of physical therapy. Throughout this journey, I experienced profound moments of self-reflection and realized that I had a unique opportunity to transform my personal experience into a catalyst for change. After competing at a local in 2022 in the Miss America Organization, I decided to launch my initiative called "X The Text." I was empowered to use the voice the organization gave me to educate individuals of all ages about the dangers of distracted driving and promote responsible behavior behind the wheel. By sharing my story and the painful consequences I endured as a result of a distracted driver, I want to empower others to prioritize road safety.

Teens tragically lose their lives everyday as a result of distracted driving. Casey Feldman was one of those unfortunate students who sadly lost her life. I am working along with her father, Joel Feldman, and his nonprofit organization I have organized workshops and presentations in schools, community centers, and local events. These engagements offer an interactive platform where I can engage with students, parents, and drivers alike, sharing statistics, real-life stories, and practical tips to prevent distracted driving incidents. By leveraging social media platforms and my website I have been able to amplify the reach of my initiative and spread the message to a wider audience. I have been utilizing a pledge provided by the NJ DMV and have encouraged many students to agree to drive distraction-free. I have also developed a scholarship on Casey’s behalf, where I have collaborated with various restaurants to help fund a scholarship for a student. My website is dedicated to inspiring high school seniors. This initiative invites them to write an essay outlining their plans to make a positive impact on their community by addressing the dangers of distracted driving.

My injury, as painful and challenging as it was, exposed me to a new purpose—one that extends beyond my own recovery. By actively engaging with the community and forging alliances while in the Miss America Organization I will continue to create a lasting impact and positive change in driving behaviors. I am committed to promoting responsible driving habits, raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving, and ultimately saving lives. No text, phone call, or distraction is worth a life.

For more information about the Dirk Derrick Car & Truck Accident Injury Scholarship, please see