High school students from throughout Middlesex County produced 30- to 60-second public service announcements (PSAs) to warn their friends and classmates about the dangers of driving while impaired or distracted.
The winning teams of Middlesex County’s 17th annual Safe Driving PSA Contest came from Carteret High School, Dunellen High School, East Brunswick High School, Middlesex County Academy for Allied Health & Biomedical Science, Monroe High School and Piscataway High School. The winners were announced May 5 at the Middlesex Fire Academy in Sayreville.
Other participating schools were Middlesex County Academy for Science, Mathematics & Engineering Technologies, New Brunswick High School, North Brunswick Township High School, Perth Amboy Vocational-Technical High School, Piscataway Vocational-Technical High School and St. Joseph’s High School in Metuchen.
“This is one of my favorite events every year,” said Freeholder H. James Polos, chairman of the county’s Public Safety and Health Committee. “The PSAs are incredibly well done, the students have a real sense of accomplishment and we’re helping to promote a message that can save lives. Families are shattered and lives are lost because of impaired or distracted driving. This program sends a powerful message to young drivers that we hope will be heard and remembered.”
The students produced 18 videos and 10 audio tapings that promote driving safety to their peers and to adults, according to information provided by the Middlesex County Office of Communication. English and Spanish language video submissions and English language audio submissions were judged on their originality and strength of message.
First place in the video category went to East Brunswick High School, second place went to Carteret High School and third place went to Monroe Township High School. The winning school in the video category received $1,000, second place received $750 and third place received $500.
First place in the audio category went to the Piscataway High School, second place went to Middlesex County Academy for Allied Health & Biomedical Sciences and third place went to Dunellen High School. The winning school in the audio category received $500, second place received $300 and third place received $200.
The county received $15,000 in grants from the New Jersey State Division of Highway Traffic Safety to run the PSA program. All winnings go to support Project Graduation or other driver safety and awareness programs.
The program is co-sponsored by the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety, the Center for Alcohol Studies at Rutgers University, the Middlesex County Superintendent of Schools, Wellspring Center for Prevention and the Injury Prevention Program, Level One Trauma Center at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.
“The Middlesex County Office of Superintendent of Schools remains committed to supporting the county’s creative approach to reducing youth alcohol-related fatalities,” said Laura Morana, interim executive county superintendent of schools. “Through the PSA contest, students’ message to their peers is impactful in communicating the danger and consequences associated with poor judgment and distracted driving. I applaud the collaborative effort and congratulate our teachers and students for their willingness to spread the word.”
“On behalf of the Division of Highway Traffic Safety, I congratulate the Middlesex County Traffic Safety Task Force and Freeholder Polos for their continued outstanding work with this program,” said Edward O’ Connor, regional supervisor of the State Division of Highway Traffic Safety. “By involving the students in the production of these PSAs, they are creating current and future advocates for safety as well as more effective outreach to the rest of the student population. Middlesex County continues to lead the state in innovative and effective methods for motivating its student population, pedestrians and motorists in general.”