The Ad Council and Project Yellow Light have announced the winners of the ninth annual Project Yellow Light scholarship competition. The contest involves students creating a TV, radio or billboard PSA to educate their peers about the dangers of distracted driving, specifically the dangers of using a phone while driving.
The winning PSAs were revealed this week on a digital billboard in New York City’s Times Square, in space donated by Clear Channel Outdoor (see below).
Project Yellow Light was established in 2007 by the family of Hunter Garner to honor his memory after his death in a car crash at age 16. According to the latest data, 2,841 people were killed in crashes involving distracted drivers in 2018. Texting while driving is an especially problematic trend among younger drivers. In 2018, 8 percent of people killed in teen (15-19) driving crashes died when the teen drivers were distracted at the times of the crashes.*
Project Yellow Light founder Julie Garner said “A huge thanks to our amazing partners, participants and especially our 2020 Hunter Garner Scholarship winners for spreading this critical message about the dangers of distracted driving. I’m so proud of our student winners who are using their voice and creativity to impact young drivers and help save lives.”
Since 2011, Project Yellow Light has partnered with the Ad Council to turn the winning submissions into PSAs that receive national exposure through 1,600 TV stations nationwide, iHeartMedia radio stations, and Clear Channel Outdoor’s nearly 2,000 digital displays.
Supporting partners include AT&T’s It Can Wait, Apparent Insurance, and Elephant Insurance, Clear Channel Outdoor (CCO), iHeartMedia, WKRN-TV Nashville, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS). Scholarships for this year’s winning students are supported through AT&T’s Aspire Initiative, a $600 million commitment since 2008 to education and skills building, Apparent Insurance, Clear Channel Outdoor, iHeartMedia, and Elephant Insurance.
Lisa Sherman, president and CEO of the Ad Council said “Distracted driving remains an important road safety issue. It’s critical to spread this message, and nobody is better suited to communicate the importance of driving safely to young people than their own peers.”
The contest received 2,163 submissions this year. Entries were received from students representing all fifty states and Washington, D.C. The 2020 scholarship prizes were awarded to the following winners:
- First Domino (video, high school): Joanne Sakamoto (Roanoke, VA)
- Phone Down (video, college): Kambria Cook (N. Chesterfield, VA)
- Eyes on the Road (billboard design, high school): Jami Pandiscio (Franklin, MA)
- It’s Simple (billboard design, college): Sierra Fentress (Sykesville, MD)
- You Can Wait (radio, high school): Miriam Zuo (Sugar Land, TX)
- Telegraphing Catastrophe (radio, college): Matthew Merrill (Frisco, TX)
A host 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 Aegis Network 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, Apparent Insurance, AT&T’s It Can Wait, CCO, Elephant Insurance and iHeartMedia.
Through the Stop the Texts. Stop the Wrecks. campaign, the Ad Council and NHTSA have been working together to prevent distracted driving since 2012.