Recognizing Student Excellence in Advocating Teen Driver Safety
Car crashes are a leading cause of death for teens 15 to 18 years old in the United States, second only to teen suicide. Teen drivers are at a higher risk of being in a car crash due to driver inexperience. That lack of expertise, coupled with speeding, distracted driving or other risky behaviors, makes teens more likely than any other group to suffer serious injuries and fatalities when driving.
Sponsored by State Farm® , the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), the Georgia Department of Transportation, and coordinated by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s (TTI’s) Teens in the Driver Seat® (TDS) program, the 14th annual Driving the Message Contest challenged teen advocates to get creative in convincing their peers to drive safely. Each year, TDS members across the nation submit posters and videos to compete for cash prizes for their schools ranging from $250 to $1,000. Despite the additional challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic this past year, 93 entries were received and judged by State Farm, TxDOT and Union Pacific, all TDS sponsors.
“The Driving the Message Contest brings together the enthusiasm we have for safer, stronger, and better educated communities with the passion these students demonstrate in artfully sharing the importance of safe driving behaviors,” said Bre Clark, Philanthropy Manager, State Farm.
In Texas, six teens from three high schools received top honors. Winners for poster design included:
- 1st Place, $1,000 – Madelyn DeWitt, Frisco Career and Technology Education Center (CTEC), Texas
- 2nd Place, $500 – Addison Walker, Frisco CTEC, Texas
- 3rd Place, $250 – Katelyn Steven, Frisco CTEC, Texas
- State Farm Employee Choice Award, $250 – Cole Bowman, La Vernia High School, Texas
Video winners included the following individuals and schools:
- 1st Place, $1,000 – Group entry, Heritage High School, Georgia
- 2nd Place, $500 – Kaylen Leija, Eagle Pass High School, Texas
- 3rd Place, $250 – Group entry, Loganville High School, Georgia
- State Farm Employee Choice Award, $250 – Yurico Pena, Eagle Pass High School, Texas
Besides recognition in the contest, entries will be used throughout the TDS program for outreach and education to influence teens to improve unsafe behaviors that contribute to car crashes in their communities.
“Enhancing traffic safety is one of the strategic priorities for the department, and we couldn’t be prouder of our long association with Teens in the Driver Seat,” says Deputy Director George Villarreal of TxDOT’s Traffic Safety Division. “Working together, we’ve helped make the roads in Texas safer for all drivers.”
“We’re nearing the 20-year anniversary for Teens in the Driver Seat, and it’s young folks like the winners we’re celebrating today who’ve made the program so successful,” states Russell Henk, TDS founder and manager of TTI’s Youth Transportation Safety Program. “They’ve literally helped save lives; maybe their friends lives or even their own.”
To see all winners and designs visit https://www.t-driver.com/get-involved/dtm/.