Minnesota teens create safe driving TV spots to win $1,000

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St. Paul, MN — As TV spots featuring Clydesdales, cars, talking babies and colas cue up for Super Bowl Sunday, Minnesota teenagers are creating their own TV commercials to promote traffic safety.

Students in grades 9–12 are invited to produce a 30-second TV public service announcement about the importance of buckling up or the dangers of distracted driving. The top teen will win $1,000 and their spot will air during the televised MTV Video Music Awards in 2013. Entries are due April 15.

The Buckle Up and Pay Attention Teens! TV Commercial Challenge allows teens to choose their safety topic: seat belts or distracted driving. The contest is sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety and AAA.

The contest’s finalists will be selected by DPS and AAA for a public online vote in May. AAA will award first-, second- and third-place winners with $1,000, $600 and $400, respectively.

“Traffic crashes are the leading killer of teens and this contest is one way to steer attention to common problems with teens behind the wheel,” says Gordy Pehrson, DPS teen driving coordinator. “When teens share their creations with peers, it enhances the value and importance of the message.”

Driver inexperience, risk-taking behavior, distractions, nighttime driving and seat belt non-use are the leading reasons for teen driving crashes and resulting deaths. In Minnesota during 2009–2011, 108 teen vehicle occupants (ages 13–19), were killed and only 35 (32 percent) were belted. Another 408 teens were seriously injured in crashes and only 226 (55 percent) were belted.

“Every year, new teen drivers take to the wheel, so it is critical that we stay focused to educate them and keep them safe,” says Gail Weinholzer, director of Public Affairs, AAA Minnesota/Iowa. “This contest promotes teen enthusiasm and creativity to encourage safe driving behavior.”

2012 Contest Winner
The 2012 Buckle Up, Teens! contest winner was St. Michael’s Eli Guillou, who produced “Big Deal”— http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuiKZ0EnTqo. View contest-winning spots from previous years.

Parent Roles and Responsibilities to Develop Safer Teen Drivers
DPS urges parents to talk to their teens about the life-saving importance of seat belts, and the dangers and consequences of speeding, distracted driving and alcohol use.

Parents are encouraged to continue to provide supervised experience for their teen driver in a variety of conditions and road types and use a parent-teen driver contract to establish road rules, reinforce the laws and follow through with consequences. Find more teen driving resources for parents.

“Parent involvement is especially important during the first year of licensure, which is the most dangerous time for teen drivers,” says Pehrson.

About the Minnesota Department Public Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) comprises 11 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.

About the Office of Traffic Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) designs, implements, and coordinates federally funded traffic safety enforcement and education programs to improve driver behaviors and reduce the deaths and serious injuries that occur on Minnesota roads. OTS also administers state funds for motorcycle safety programs and child seats for needy families.

OTS is an anchoring partner of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths traffic safety initiative. A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes — education, enforcement, engineering and emergency trauma response.

Office of Traffic Safety Highlights
• Preliminary crash reports indicate at least 380 people were killed in traffic crashes on Minnesota roads in 2012, up from 368 in 2011. Final 2012 crash facts will be issued in early summer.

• 2,551 motorists were arrested for DWI during a statewide DWI enforcement effort.

• OTS is investing federal grants totaling more than $7 million to 317 law enforcement agencies and community partner groups for enforcement and education campaigns, Oct. 2012 –Sept. 30, 2013.

• The 2011 Minnesota Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report notes 368 traffic deaths for the year, the lowest since 1944 and a 44 percent reduction in deaths from a decade ago.

• More than 4,000 DWI offenders are using ignition interlock to benefit road safety and ensure legal, sober driving.

• OTS news archive: https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/ots/Pages/news.aspx


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