LAFAYETTE, La. - Over the past decade, distracted driving has become one of the leading causes of vehicle crashes on our nation’s roads. Acadiana Regional Safety Coordinator Ron Czajkowski is encouraging drivers to put down the phone. To build awareness of this issue among youth in Acadiana, the Acadiana Regional Safety Coalition is promoting Project Yellow Light, a Distracted Driving PSA contest for students in colleges and high schools across the U.S. The PSA categories are billboard, video, and radio. The scholarships will be given in each category for college and high school students, and range in value from $8,000 to $2,000.
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), between 2012 and 2018, nearly 23,000 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver. In fact, there were 2,841 people killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2018. While this represents a 12-percent decrease in distracted driving fatalities from 2017, there is clearly more work to be done. There are still thousands of preventable deaths happening on our roads every year.
Over the years, young drivers have become the worst texting-while-driving offenders, using their cell phones to talk, text, and scroll through social media while behind the wheel. According to NHTSA, young drivers 16 to 24 years old have also been observed using handheld electronic devices while driving at higher rates than older drivers have since 2007. In fact, in 2018, 8 percent of people killed in teen (15-19) driving crashes died when those teen drivers were distracted at the time of the crash. By utilizing peer to peer connections through the PSAs, the Coalition hopes that area students can combat these trends.
“It is absurd how common it has become to see people driving down the road looking at their phones,” said Ron Czajkowski. “People know texting and driving is dangerous and often illegal, but they selfishly do it anyway, and it puts others at risk.”
Billboard submissions are due to by March 1st, 2021, and video and radio submissions are due by April 1st, 2021. In addition to the scholarship, the PSAs may be turned into national campaign materials to be seen on billboards, tv stations, and radio stations.
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