“Project Yellow Light” Scholarship Contest Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary with New Class of Student Winners to Raise Awareness of Dangers of Texting and Driving

The Ad Council and Project Yellow Light announced the winners of the tenth annual Project Yellow Light scholarship competition, which involves students creating a TV, radio or billboard PSA to educate their peers about the dangers of distracted driving, specifically the dangers of messaging while driving. The winning PSAs will be showcased on June 28 on a digital billboard in New York City’s Times Square, in space donated by Clear Channel Outdoor.

Project Yellow Light was established by the family of Hunter Garner to honor his memory after his death in a car crash at age 16. In 2019, nine percent of drivers 15 to 20 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of the fatal crashes.

“Project Yellow Light is delighted to be in its tenth year as a national scholarship competition,” said Julie Garner, founder of Project Yellow Light. “In 2011 we held the contest at one high school in Fredericksburg, VA with a handful of youth – today we reach thousands of students each year in high schools and colleges across the country.  None of this would’ve been possible without our amazing partners who have helped us every step along the way. Together we carry the important message to warn and protect our youth from the dangers of distracted driving. Congratulations to this year’s winners of the Hunter Garner scholarship and to all those who took part in this year’s contest.”

Since 2011, Project Yellow Light has partnered with the Ad Council to turn the winning submissions into PSAs that receive national exposure through 1,800 TV stations nationwide, iHeartMedia radio stations, and Clear Channel Outdoor’s nearly 2,000 digital displays.

“Over the last decade, Project Yellow Light has been driven forward through the Garner family’s dedication and leadership,” said Michelle Hillman, Ad Council Chief Campaign Development Officer. “Julie’s passion and her warmth for everyone she works with is one of the reasons why Project Yellow Light has continued to grow and make a lasting impact. We look forward to another ten years of this remarkable initiative.”

Supporting partners include AT&T’s It Can Wait, Clear Channel Outdoor (CCO), Elephant Insurance, iHeartMedia, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) and WKRN-TV Nashville. Scholarships for this year’s winning students are supported through AT&T, which has committed $600 million to education and skills building since 2008, as well as Clear Channel Outdoor and Elephant Insurance.

The contest received 2,069 submissions this year. Entries were received from students representing all fifty states and Washington, D.C. The 2021 scholarship prizes were awarded to:

  • It’s Joust Not Worth It (video, high school): Morgan Taylor (Scottsdale, AZ)
  • No One’s Good at That (video, college): Angie Benitez-Garcia (Hollywood, FL)
  • Leave Them Unread (billboard design, high school): Mia Allen (St. Louis, MO)
  • Phone Rest (billboard design, college): Diana Gonzalez Mejia (Houston, TX)
  • Are You a Chameleon (radio, high school): Nathan Ong (Annandale, VA)
  • Just Don’t (radio, college): Katie Saylor (Boonsboro, MD)

A number of advertising industry executives and artists lent their time to judging the entries. This year’s panel included recording artist and songwriter Aloe Blacc; renowned filmmaker and social activist Kweku Mandela; dentsu international Global CEO Wendy Clark; Wordsworth + Booth President Tony Mennuto; Co-Chairman and Partner of Goodby Silverstein & Partners Jeff Goodby; and representatives from the Martin Agency, Pereira O’Dell and Project Yellow Light partners the Ad Council, AT&T’s It Can Wait, CCO, Elephant Insurance and iHeartMedia.

“As a company focused on safe and clean roads, our team at Elephant Insurance has enjoyed the opportunity to partner with Project Yellow Light for the last three years to bring attention to the risks of distracted driving,” says Elephant Insurance CEO Alberto Schiavon. “We congratulate this year’s winners for delivering impactful messaging that will impact their peers and ultimately create a safer environment for all of us on the road.”

“For the last six years, iHeart has been a proud supporter of the Project Yellow Light program, offering our platform to young creative minds who are dedicated to make a difference in the world,” said Jessica King, Vice President Communications for iHeartMedia.  “Distracted driving remains a critical public safety crisis; as we head into the summer, and so many Americans take to the roads, we hope these new PSAs will help spotlight this important issue.”

“The crash and fatality rate statistics around distracted driving are shocking. We must all do our part and save lives,” said WKRN-TV Nashville Emmy-winning journalist Alex Denis. “Put the phone down. No one should suffer the loss of a loved one due to a senseless act that remains so preventable.” 

Through the Stop the Texts. Stop the Wrecks. campaign, the Ad Council and NHTSA have been working together to prevent distracted driving since 2012.

*Data Source: https://www.nhtsa.gov/press-releases/nhtsa-releases-2019-crash-fatality-data

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