Distracted driving is a major issue and according to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), distracted driving was the cause of 3,477 lives just in 2015. Now, when most people think of distracted driving they automatically think about texting while driving or just generally holding the phone while driving. While smartphones are definitely a major contributor, distracted driving can be caused by much more than just your phone.
Essentially anything that causes you to take your eyes off the road that is not related to driving can be considered a distraction. This includes things like trying to reach something in the backseat, applying make up, fiddling with the radio or infotainment too much, even drinking a beverage out of a cup with no straw can sometimes cause drivers to take their eyes off the road.
Doing any of those things while driving at any speed is hazardous, but they all become exponentially more dangerous when doing them at freeway speed or faster. It may sound crazy that someone would look down at a phone or reach for something behind them while driving at 70mph but there is clear data the show that it really does happen. Heck, I’ve seen it happen!
That is why it is imperative to teach young people about distracted driving. The earlier that someone is cognizant of the dangers of distracted driving the more likely they will be to eliminate the habit and pass on the knowledge to their peers.
That very fact is the backbone and mission statement of Project Yellow Light, a non-profit scholarship organization founded to help educate people about distracted driving. Specifically Project Yellow Light is a scholarship fund set up in honor of Hunter Garner a 16 year old young man who unfortunately lost his life in a car crash caused by distracted driving. Hunter’s parents are the founders of Project Yellow Light.
Recently Project Yellow Light has teamed up with Mazda’s “Racing For Good” initiative to help fund the Hunter Garner scholarship and as part of that partnership Mazda Motorsports racer Kenton Koch is traveling to local area high schools and personally giving a presentation to students about distracted driving as well as encouraging them about the Project Yellow Light scholarship video contest.
I was invited to attend one of these presentations at Fountain Valley High School here in California. Being back in a high school classroom was…interesting to say the least but despite what you think of teenagers, the students were genuinely interested in what Kenton had to say and they seemed particularly enthused about the Project Yellow Light scholarship contest.
By the time you are reading this the 2017 contest will be closed but if you are still interested in trying to earn it next year the competition basically breaks down like this: contestants are tasked with making a 25 second or a 55 second PSA video on the dangers of distracted driving. Entry videos will be judged and the creator of the winning video will earn a $5,000 scholarship. In addition to the scholarship, the winner’s video will also be picked up by the Ad Council and be distributed nationally to 1,600 TV stations.
That is a pretty good bullet point on the ol’ resume for those who are looking to study film making in their higher education. There are also separate competitions for billboard ads and radio ads for those who would rather not make a video.
I think the contest is a pretty cool way to not only spread the word on an important issue, but also inspire creativity which is always a good thing. If you want to learn more about Project Yellow Light, visit ProjectYellowLight.com. Likewise if you’d like to learn more about Mazda’s Drive For Good visit MazdaUSA.com/why-mazda/drive4good
You can also get more info in the press release below.
CAL STATE FULLERTON STUDENTS TEAM UP WITH MAZDA MOTORSPORTS TO PROMOTE PROJECT YELLOWLIGHT DISTRACTED DRIVING CAMPAIGN
Students started a drive safe campaign for their senior graduation project
Senior students at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF), worked with Mazda Motorsports and Project Yellow Light to start a national campaign making young people in particular aware of the continuing dangers of distracted driving.
The partnership is part of an ongoing effort to raise awareness and potentially lower the incident rate that continues to rise as a result of distracted driving. Participating students from CSUF’s PRactical ADvantage Communications, student-run advertising and public relations agency, have joined forces with Mazda Motorsports to create this presentation.
“We are determined to lower the death toll, which sadly, is rising,” said Cameron Hay, Account Executive for PRactical ADvantage. “Mazda Motorsports and Project Yellow Light have led the way on this for many years, and we are honored to be a part of the effort.”
Project Yellow Light is a scholarship designed to bring change. In memory of Hunter Garner, the competition has one clear message: Encourage your friends to avoid distracted driving, specifically, texting while driving.
Fellow CSUF student and Mazda Pro Driver Kenton Koch gave a 30 minute presentation to the students of Fountain Valley High School. The presentation covered what Project Yellow Light is all about and how the students could win scholarship awards. This was followed by some of Koch’s favorite driving tips to stay safe.
“I have been working with PRactical ADvantage students for 5 years now, and am very proud of the work and success they have accomplished,” said Dean Case, Communications Officer of Mazda Motorsports. “Mazda has always believed in helping our local community grow, and what better way to do that then give soon-to-be graduates real world experience and spread the message of safe driving all at the same time.”