Governor Dannel P. Malloy, Attorney General George Jepsen, Travelers executives and other teen driving safety advocates from around the state chose their Top 10 best student-made videos submitted for the 2013 DMV teen-safe driving video contest and chose five overall winners.
The public-service video competition drew more than 128 entries that involved nearly 480 students statewide. At an April awards ceremony the five winners will be announced. They competed using a student-designed theme "Teen Safe Driving: Are You In?" which opened a wide range of creativity in the high school contest submissions. Travelers is the corporate prize sponsor for the contest.
“I applaud these students for their great work and their commitment to safety,” said Governor Malloy. “We have some of the strictest teen driving laws in the nation—laws that help keep our youngest drivers safe—but that is only half the battle. Ensuring our teen drivers have the information they need to develop good driving habits and be responsible behind the wheel will keep Connecticut’s roads safer for everyone.”
Students who worked on the project are Juhi Gupta of Rocky Hill, Michael Brainerd of East Haven, Luke Edwards of Madison, Daniyal N. Khan of Berlin and Patrick Kudej of Norwich. They also are members of DMV's Commissioner's Advisory Committee on Teen Safe Driving.
"This contest is a fun and creative way to get the important message out to teens about safe driving," said Juhi Gupta, a Rocky Hill senior from Mercy High School in Middletown and one of the student judges on today's panel. "The more students participating, the farther the message spreads. Not only to teens, but also to the adults in their lives."
“We thank all of the students this year for taking a leadership role in spreading the important messages about safe teen driving,” said Andy Bessette, Executive Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer, Travelers. “This contest continues to be a great way for teens to reach their peers and remind them about the responsibility they have when they get behind the wheel.”
The Governor and 26 other finalist judges discussed the impact of these 25-second video public service commercials designed for promoting safety messages on television, websites, and through various forms of social media. The contest aims to educate teens and parents about safe driving practices. Schools ranking in the Top 10 are (alphabetically) and can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/teensafedriving12
- Arts at the Capitol Theater, Willimantic
- Daniel Hand High School, Madison (2)
- Hall High School, West Hartford (3 ranking videos)
- New Canaan High School
- Simsbury High School
- Weston High School
- Waterbury Arts Magnet High School
Judges also reviewed four multi-cultural language videos. Submissions were from Darien High School, Hall High School and Norwich Free Academy for this new special category on reaching diverse audiences.
Attorney General George Jepsen said, “The creativity and the quality of the all videos were impressive. The participants should be proud of their work and their efforts to bring home this important message to teen and adult drivers. We all need to be in on safe driving.”
The five students who created this year's theme said it is a simple-to-understand message. It engages influential people, such as parents, friends or other teens, to help send a convincing message about safety to teens who are driving now or getting ready to obtain a license, they said.
Travelers, as the contest's corporate sponsor, donates $15,000 in prizes to winning students' schools - $5,000 for first place; $4,000 for second place; $3,000 for third place; $2,000 for fourth place; and $1,000 for fifth place. The winners will be announced during April 2 awards ceremonies.
"This contest and students' involvement helps us with the high visibility needed for spreading the message continually about teen safe driving," said DMV Commissioner Melody A. Currey, pointing out that the contest began after Connecticut's historic overhaul in 2008 of its teen-driving laws.
Motor vehicle crashes nationally are the leading cause of death for 15- to 20-year-olds, resulting in roughly one-third of all deaths for this age group. Among the risk factors is overconfidence and risk-taking behaviors, which students depict in the videos as safety hazards.
Connecticut has been a national leader in enacting and upgrading teen-driver legislation. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (2012) recently calculated Connecticut shined as a leader as having a system that can produce the fewest crashes among the 50 states. Another recent evaluation indicated that the 2008 upgrades were associated with further decreases in crashes. Connecticut 16 and 17 year-old drivers have shown significant reduction in crash rates per population relative to older Connecticut drivers and other 16 and 17 year-olds in the nation. Support for the laws remains high with over 85 percent of parents saying they are effective in reducing crashes, injuries and deaths.
David Shapiro, M.D., trauma surgeon at Saint Francis Medical Center in Hartford, is working with DMV and the five teens to help promote its contest and awareness about safe driving.
“A significant drop in teen traffic fatalities demonstrates that not only has legislation made an impressive impact but it appears that the teens, their peers and their parents are taking an active role by abiding by the laws to improve their safety behind the wheel. This all started with institution of the laws and those affected by the law responded to it,” he said.