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DOT Invites Teens to Enter Distracted Driving Prevention Video Contest

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The team behind the “Make a video. Win a scholarship. Save a life.” contest.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT’s) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched a new contest, “Make a video. Win a scholarship. Save a life.,” inviting teens to produce a video public service announcement against distracted driving, as DOT Secretary Ray LaHood writes on his blog, Fast Lane.

LaHood writes:

We know that young people are especially vulnerable to distracted driving. According to a recent NHTSA nationwide study, young drivers 18 to 20 years old were most likely to be using a phone at the time of a crash. Even more alarming, 20 percent said that sending text messages or e-mails made no difference at all in their driving.

That’s why we’re reaching out to young people to help us raise awareness about the dangers of texting or talking on a cell phone behind the wheel. As Deputy Secretary [John] Porcari said, ‘As the father of teenagers myself, I know that the most effective message often comes from another teen. They listen to each other, making this contest particularly powerful in the fight to end distracted driving.’

The contest, in its second year, is now expanding to include both high school and college students. The official opening date is October 31, and the deadline to submit videos is April 1, 2013. Julie Garner, co-founder of Project Yellow Light, said last year’s contest attracted more than 400 participants. Project Yellow Light gives the details of the contest to prospective entrants, saying, “As an applicant you have one clear mission: create a sixty second video to encourage your friends to avoid distracted driving.”

As Project Yellow Light says to teens thinking of entering the contest:

You can speak to your peers on this subject in a way that adults cannot. The more lives you can impact, the more lives you can save.

You have creative license — we want to see your personal expression come through in your video. You can video yourself, a group of people, make a cartoon, do a music video*. Just keep it to a minute or less and make sure it’s in good taste. […]

*If using songs in your videos, you must use music provided from our music library found in the Resources tab here.

The DOT made the announcement about the contest on Friday at the Grand Prix of Baltimore, along with its partners in the contest: Mazda Motorsports, Project Yellow Light, the Ad Council, and the National Organizations for Youth Safety. The winning PSAs will be announced as part of Global Youth Traffic Safety Month in May, and will be distributed to 1,600 TV stations nationwide in the spring, according to an NHTSA press release.

Prizes for the winning PSAs include $5,000, $2,000, and $1,000 college scholarships; and the two first-place winners (in the high school and college categories) will have the opportunity to attend one-day teen survival skills classes at the Skip Barber Racing School presented by Mazda Motorsports.

In the last three years, the U.S. has made great strides in raising awareness about the life-threatening dangers of distracted driving: 39 states have texting bans, and 10 ban all hand-held phone use while driving, as Secretary LaHood writes. In June, DOT announced its new Blueprint for “Ending Distracted Driving”, which is a comprehensive strategy for ending texting and handheld phone use behind the wheel. “But people, especially young people, continue to be killed and injured as a result of distracted driving, despite the fact that these deaths are 100 percent preventable,” La Hood notes.

 LaHood goes on to say:

The bottom line is this: When you take your focus off the road — even if just for a moment — you put your life, and the lives of others, in danger. Distracted driving is unsafe. It’s irresponsible. And, in a split second, one text or call can wreck it all.

But it is preventable. Working together, we can educate our teens on the dangers of distracted driving, and we can save lives.

High school seniors and college students can enter the contest at

You can see last year’s winning PSA here:

Image by U.S. Department of Transportation.


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