The 2009-2010 Theme - Distracted Driving
Distracted driving in 2008 claimed 5,870 lives nationwide in police-reported crashes when at least one form of driver distraction occurred, according to federal officials. Another estimated 515,000 people across the country were injured. Distracted driving comes in various forms, such as cell phone use, texting while driving, eating, drinking, talking with passengers, as well as using in-vehicle technologies and portable electronic devices.
Connecticut has a number of laws that relate to distracted driving, including a ban on 16- and 17-year-old drivers using a cell phone – even with an ear device – or other mobile electronic device. A first offense carries a three-month license suspension and $225 in fines and license restoration fees.
National attention that focused on these dangers, particularly the cell phone and text messaging that so many teenagers do outside of the motor vehicle, led DMV last August to choose the topic. To enter the contest called, “From the Driver’s Seat to the Director’s Chair,” high school students were asked to shoot, direct and edit a 25-second public service announcement video.
It could mention a number of distractions that occur while driving and it must mention at least one of the following teen driving laws related to distracted driving:
Passenger restriction laws.
Laws against talking on a cell phone while driving.
Laws against texting while driving (mobile electronic device use).
The DMV plans to use nearly 80 videos submitted in a variety of outreach programs that it conducts as well as offer them to schools, businesses, government agencies, advocacy groups and other partners in teen safe driving.
Promotional sponsors of the contest include the Connecticut Police Chief’s Association, Mourning Parents Act (!MPACT- a bereaved parents group), Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, the Connecticut State Police and the Connecticut Department of Transportation's Highway Safety Office.
Winning Student Teams
Masuk High School in Monroe will receive $4,000 for first place, Coginchaug Regional High School in Durham will receive $3,000 for second place and Darien High School will receive $2,000 for third place. In addition, first and second place students will each receive a video camera and third place students will each receive a $100 Best Buy gift card, all as prizes from Travelers. WFSB-TV will also air the videos as public service announcements and students from the 11 finalist teams have been invited to appear on the Plaza during the CBS Network's Early Show.
A total of eight teams of runners up and finalists also received certificates from Travelers, the State of Connecticut and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A panel of judges representing highway safety advocates selected the winners as well as runners up and finalists from the entries.