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

Public Service Advertisement Contest Calls on High School and College Students to Develop Distracted Driving Videos to Target Their Peers

Nov 04, 2013, 10:05 ET from The Ad Council

WASHINGTON, Nov. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Today the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), Project Yellow Light, Mazda Motorsports, National Organizations for Youth Safety® (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.

"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."

"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.

"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 www.projectyellowlight.com.

For more than four decades, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has served as the key federal agency charged with improving safety on our nation's roadways. As part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, NHTSA is working to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries by promoting the use of safety belts and child safety seats; helping states and local communities address the threat of drunk drivers; educating road users about the risks associated with distracted driving; regulating safety standards and investigating safety defects in motor vehicles; establishing and enforcing fuel economy standards; conducting research on driver behavior and traffic safety; and providing consumer information on issues ranging from child passenger safety to impaired driving. For more information, visit www.nhtsa.gov.

Mazda Motorsports
Mazda is the number-one brand for road-racers across North America. Thousands of Mazda powered grassroots racers compete in various classes with the SCCA and NASA highlighted by Spec Miata, the world's largest spec class with over 2,500 cars built. In 2006 Mazda established the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder to assist racers in moving up through the ranks. In 2010 this was expanded to include the Mazda Road to Indy. Key to Mazda's success is strategic partnerships with the Skip Barber Racing School and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Mazda Motorsports is managed by Mazda North American Operations (MNAO). MNAO is headquartered in Irvine, Calif., and oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States and Mexico through nearly 700 dealers.  Operations in Mexico are managed by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City.

Project Yellow Light
Project Yellow Light is a film competition for high school seniors and college students designed to create compelling video stories that will convince their peers to develop safe driving habits.  The project was created by Julie, Lowell and Alexandra Garner in memory of their son/brother, Hunter who died tragically in a car crash in 2007. Each year the winner of the film competition receives The Hunter Garner Scholarship.  Project Yellow Light/Hunter Garner Scholarship is a non-profit organization that began in Hunter's school, Riverbend High in Fredericksburg, VA, with aspirations to inspire and motivate youth all over America.  The program is designed to give youth a voice and a role in reversing the number of car crashes — the number one killer of teenagers and young adults in the U.S.

National Organizations for Youth Safety® (NOYS) is a coalition of more than 60 national organizations, business and industry leaders, and federal agencies who serve youth and focus on youth safety and health. Through this coalition, NOYS influences more than 80 million young people and their adult advisors.  The mission of NOYS is to promote youth empowerment and leadership, and build partnerships that save lives, prevent injuries, and enhance safe and healthy lifestyles among all youth.

The Advertising Council
The Ad Council (www.adcouncil.org) is a private, non-profit organization that marshals talent from the advertising and communications industries, the facilities of the media, and the resources of the business and non-profit communities to produce, distribute and promote public service campaigns on behalf of non-profit organizations and government agencies. The Ad Council addresses issue areas such as improving the quality of life for children, preventive health, education, community well-being, environmental preservation and strengthening families.

SOURCE The Ad Council