Project Yellow Light Winners Announced

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), Mazda Motorsports, National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) and the Ad Council announced the high school and college winners of their third annual Project Yellow Light college scholarship contest as part of Global Youth Traffic Safety Month™.

The contest calls on students to develop and produce a short video educating their peers on the dangers of using mobile devices while behind the wheel of a vehicle. First-place winners receive $5,000 in college scholarship funding. The high school grand prize was awarded to Dylan Malburg of Grand Rapids, Michigan. The college grand prize was awarded to teammates Paul Price and Josh Falkum, students at the Savannah College of Art & Design. The winning videos can be viewed here.

“Distracted driving is deadly and young drivers are most at risk, so we need to make sure they get the message,” said NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman. “The Project Yellow Light contest, which uses peer-to-peer messaging, along with NHTSA’s ‘U Drive. U Text. U Pay.’ enforcement and advertising campaign are examples of how creative public awareness efforts and effective enforcement can reduce distracted driving on our roads.”

Established in 2007, Project Yellow Light is a video contest and scholarship program started 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 young adults to be safe when first taking on the road.

“We are thrilled with this year’s winners and the talent they are lending to the critical message of distracted driving,” said Julie Garner, Founder of Project Yellow Light. “Project Yellow Light is grateful to our participants, sponsors and the amazing bevy of VIP judges – all who volunteer their time to help save lives. From the world of racing, our judges include CJ Wilson, Dutch Mandel, Ben Albano and Tristan Nunez. And from the media, production, advertising and entertainment realm, Kweku Mandela, Wendy Clark, Matt Williams, Jeff Goodby, Helayne Spivak and Aloe Blacc. ”

Second- and third-place prizes were awarded to high school students Henry DaCosta and Yunmei Li. Second- and third-place prizes were given to college students Andy Checketts and Bethany Faile. Second-place and third-place finishers will receive $2,000 and $1,000 in scholarships, respectively.

All of the winners will receive college scholarships, provided by Mazda Motorsports. Additionally, the first-place winners’ videos will be digitally distributed to air as public service advertisements (PSAs) by the Ad Council to their network of more than 1600 TV stations nationwide.

“Racers take driver safety very seriously,” said John Doonan, Director of Mazda Motorsports, Mazda North American Operations. “Our commitment to motor vehicle and driver safety makes Project Yellow Light a natural fit for Mazda Motorsports. Many of our teenage race drivers have taken a leadership role in sharing this critical safety message to their peer group.”

Said NOYS Executive Director, Anita Boles: “According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2011, 11 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. Empowering youth to develop messages that will reach their peers through projects like Project Yellow Light provides them opportunities to learn about current youth issues and engages them to be part of the solution.”

“Today we congratulate all of the young adults who submitted videos to inspire their peers to put down their phones while driving,” said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council. “Peer-to-peer messaging is some of the most powerful. Through Project Yellow Light, we can continue to work with our partners to keep our nation’s youth safe behind the wheel.”

This year’s contest ran from Oct. 31, 2013 through March 17, 2014 and received more than 400 submissions.