NHTSA, Project Yellow Light, Mazda Motorsports, NOYS, and the Ad Council Opens Third Annual Anti-Distracted Driving Video Competition

don'text and drive (select to view enlarged photo)

WASHINGTON--Nov. 4, 2013: Today the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), Project Yellow Light, Mazda Motorsports, National Organizations for Youth SafetyŽ (NOYS) and the Ad Council opened their Project Yellow Light contest to high school and college students nationwide. The goal is to challenge students to create a short video to convince their peers to not drive distracted.

"Today's young drivers do not realize exactly how dangerous using their phones while driving can be," said Administrator David Strickland of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "Through Project Yellow Light, our youngest drivers will hear from their peers about the dangers of distracted driving, and how harmful sending even one text can be when behind the wheel."

Established in 2007, Project Yellow Light is a video contest and scholarship program established by Julie Garner, of The Martin Agency, in memory of her teenage son Hunter Garner who was killed in a car crash that year. Project Yellow Light was developed to encourage teens and young adults to be safe when taking on the road. The contest allows students to create their own videos, with the chance to win a college scholarship and have their short film turned into an Ad Council PSA and distributed to over 1,600 TV stations nationwide. Scholarships are made possible by the generosity of Mazda Motorsports.

The main objective for this scholarship competition is to not only give a creative outlet to high school and college students, but to also educate this group of young drivers on the dangers of distracted driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2011, eleven percent of all drivers 15-19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes. This age group has the largest number of distracted drivers. Along with this statistic, a survey conducted by DOT's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that 20 percent of young drivers ages 18 to 20 years old said sending text messages or e-mails did not affect how well they drove.

"Texting and cell phone use behind the wheel significantly increases a driver's risk of crashing. Even a single, momentary distraction while driving can cause a lifetime of devastating consequences," said Transportation Secretary Foxx. "Through Project Yellow Light we hope to raise awareness of the danger among teens and encourage young people to take responsibility – and take action – to reduce the risk of distracted driving accidents."

"We had a tremendous response from many of our young Mazda race drivers this past year in support of Project Yellow Light," said John Doonan, Director of Mazda Motorsports. "Mazda Motorsports has more teenage race drivers than anyone, so we had teen-to-teen mentoring from professional race drivers. We are looking forward to continuing this unique partnership in support of highway safety."

"In 2012, we were fortunate to have more than 500 video submissions, and we're expecting even more buzz and growth around this year's scholarship film competition," said Julie Garner, co-founder of Project Yellow Light. "The dangers of 'distracted-driving' are more prevalent now than ever, and I am beyond grateful for the efforts of the young, talented filmmakers who are helping Project Yellow Light spread this important message across the country."

The winners of this year's PSA contest will be announced on May 1st at the National Organizations for Youth Safety's Global Youth Traffic Safety Summit.

"Distracted driving is a national epidemic, and our youngest drivers are particularly at risk," said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council. "We know that peer to peer communication is very effective at reaching this target, which will make the Project Yellow Light PSAs so powerful."

For more details on timing, judging criteria and a full list of rules and regulations, visit Project Yellow Light.

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