High school students from throughout Middlesex County produced 30- to 60-second audio and video public service announcements to warn their friends and classmates about the dangers of driving while impaired or distracted.
The winners of Middlesex County’s 19th annual 3D-Don’t Drive Dangerously PSA Contest were announced on May 8 during a conference in their honor held at the Middlesex County Fire Academy in Sayreville.
“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,” Freeholder Shanti Narra, chair of the county’s Public Safety and Health Committee, said in a prepared statement. “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.”
High school students from 12 schools throughout the county produced 18 videos and seven audio recordings that promote driving safety to their peers and to adults. English and Spanish language video submissions and English language audio submissions were judged on their originality, creativity, sound quality and strength of message.
First place in the video category went to North Brunswick Township School; second place went to John P. Stevens High School in Edison; and third place went to the Middlesex County Academy for Allied Health and Biomedical Sciences in Woodbridge.
First place in the audio category went to the Middlesex County Academy for Allied Health and Biomedical Sciences; second place went to Carteret High School; and third place went to John P. Stevens High School.
The contest coincides with prom season to remind all students of the seriousness of distracted driving.
The program is co-sponsored by the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety, the Middlesex County Superintendent of Schools, the Wellspring Center for Prevention, the Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey and the Level One Trauma Center at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.
The county received $15,000 in grants from the New Jersey State Division of Highway Traffic Safety to run the PSA program.
“It takes only a second for a distraction to become an accident,” Middlesex County Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios said in the statement. “On behalf of the Board of Chosen Freeholders, I would like to congratulate the winners and thank all of the students who participated in this contest and are helping to spread the word of safe driving to their peers.”
Kyle M. Anderson, Middlesex County interim executive county superintendent said, “As a county superintendent I applaud these students for their creative thinking and collaboration to send a message to their peers about distracted driving. As a parent, I thank them.”
Ezra Helfand, executive director of the Wellspring Center for Prevention, said “All of us at Wellspring are very proud of each student who participated in this year’s PSA contest and the obvious passion shown through their work. We strongly believe that it’s the process of making the PSAs that has the most lasting effect on the students. When putting the messages together, students are doing the research, talking to their friends … really thinking about it. I hope that they carry this message to their peers well after this contest is over, and into the future. We wish each of them all the best of luck.”
During the morning, students engaged in creative group activities to include an intimate presentation and ensuing discussion hosted by a former New York State Corrections officer, John Schiavone, whose program entitled “Choosing to Lose” focused on the importance of making good decisions. Also in attendance were members of the New Jersey State Police, who assisted with the Driver Response Impaired Vision Exercise (DRIVE), where students gained a realistic perspective on teenage drinking and driving by experiencing everyday activities through “fatal vision” goggles, which simulate elevated blood-alcohol levels.
Middlesex County’s Traffic Safety Coordinator, David Gregor, congratulated all that attended for their countless hours of contribution in producing some innovative thought-provoking messages for both teen drivers and adults alike.
“Your focus in both the production of your announcements and in your participation today in our interactive workshops makes all of us quite proud that the message of Don’t Drive Dangerously is hitting its mark,” he said in the statement.
The winning school in the video category received $1,000; second place received $750, and third place received $500. The winning school in the audio category received $500; second place received $300, and third place received $200. All winnings go to support Project Graduation or other driver safety and awareness programs. Additionally, the State Division of Highway Traffic Safety provided gift certificates to each member of the winning teams.
All video and audio entries are available on our YouTube channel by searching Middlesex County NJ.