U.S. DOT Teams Up With Mazda Motorsports, Project Yellow Light, the Ad Council, and NOYS to Engage Young Drivers in Anti-Distracted Driving Campaign

| Washington, DC

NHTSA 38-12
Friday, August 31, 2012
Contact: Karen Aldana, 202-366-9550

High School and College Students to Compete in 2nd Annual Contest to Develop Anti-Distracted Driving Videos

BALTIMORE – The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today joined with Mazda Motorsports, Project Yellow Light, the Ad Council and the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) to launch a new video challenge that invites teens to produce a public service announcement (PSA) against distracted driving that will air on television stations nationwide this spring. To raise awareness of the contest, Mazda Motorsport race car drivers featured anti-distraction messages on their cars and racing suits today at the Grand Prix races in Baltimore.

"As the father of teenagers myself, I know that the most effective message often comes from another teen, making this contest particularly powerful in the fight to end distracted driving," said U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari. "This contest, along with the other steps outlined in Secretary LaHood's Blueprint to End Distracted Driving, will help us raise awareness of the danger and encourage more people to take responsibility – and take action – to reduce the risk of distracted driving accidents."

To build greater awareness among teens on the dangers of distracted driving, the U.S. DOT, Mazda Motorsports, Project Yellow Light, the Ad Council and the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) are co-sponsoring a nationwide search for the best viral video with a message against distracted driving. Now in its second year, the contest will expand to both high school and college students. The winning PSAs will be announced as part of Global Youth Traffic Safety Month® in May 2013 and distributed nationally by the Ad Council. Winners will receive prizes that include college scholarships and One-Day Teen Survival Skills Classes at the Skip Barber Racing School, presented by Mazda Motorsports.

"Through our extensive involvement in racing, especially the Mazda Road to Indy, Mazda Motorsports has an amazing team of teenage racers. We think this peer-to-peer message from teens to teens will make the point very effectively," said John Doonan, Director of Motorsports for Mazda North American Operations.

Findings from the first nationally representative telephone survey on driver distraction conducted by DOT's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that young drivers 18 to 20 years old reported the highest level of phone use at the time of a crash or near-crash. Most alarming is that 20 percent said sending text messages or e-mails made no difference in their driving.

"Today's teenagers make no secret about the fact that they want to stay connected to their social networks and enjoy text messaging. That's why it's so important that we educate young drivers of the dangers of distracted driving and help them make smart decisions that will keep them safe," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland.

"We are so thrilled to be expanding the Hunter Garner Scholarship through this terrific partnership," said Julie Garner, co-founder of Project Yellow Light. "Last year we were able to attract over 400 participants whose short films have been viewed by thousands. This year we anticipate explosive growth and hope to carry Project Yellow Light's message about saving lives and empowering our youth to thousands more throughout the country."

Students interested in submitting PSAs for contest consideration can find more information at

Today's announcement builds on the U.S. DOT's Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving, a comprehensive plan spearheaded by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to address the growing and dangerous practice of using handheld cell phones behind the wheel. Released in June, the plan outlines concrete steps stakeholders around the country – from lawmakers and safety organizations to families and younger drivers – can take to reduce the risk posed by distracted driving.