Middlesex County’s Comprehensive Traffic Safety program announced the winners of the 2020 “Don’t Drive Dangerously” PSA (Public Service Announcement) contest.
In the audio category, first place was awarded to Monroe Township High School for “My First Birthday,” second place went to John P. Stevens High School for “Put Down the Phone” and third place winners were the Middlesex County Academy for Allied Health & Biomedical Sciences with “Keep You Safe.”
In the video category, first place was awarded to New Brunswick High School for “It’s Not Worth It,” second place went to Piscataway High School for “Don’t Let Technology Drive Your Life” and third place winners were South Plainfield High School for “You Wouldn’t.”
“During this challenging time, our residents are more aware of personal safety than ever before. It is through challenges that creativity is bolstered and refined, and this was particularly evident in all the submissions this year,” Middlesex County Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios said in a prepared 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 to help spread the word of safe driving to their peers.”
Each year, high school students from throughout Middlesex County produce 30- to 60-second public service announcements to warn their friends and classmates about the dangers of driving while impaired or distracted. Sadly, these PSAs continue to be necessary: according to the county’s Comprehensive Traffic Safety Program, 1 million people have died in motor vehicle crashes in the last 25 years, with 40,000 deaths in the US per year. Vehicular crashes remain the leading cause of death for people ages 1-35.
In its 20th anniversary, the contest’s mission has evolved from reducing alcohol-related fatalities among teens to combating all forms of dangerous driving. The event is co-sponsored by the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders; Robert Wood Johnson-Injury Prevention; The Middlesex County Superintendent of Schools; the Wellspring Center for Prevention; and NJ Division of Highway Traffic Safety.
“This event has always been a great way for our County’s students to sharpen their artistic and technical skills,” Middlesex County Freeholder Shanti Narra, chair of the Public Safety and Health Committee, said in the statement. “This year’s contest was impacted by COVID-19, but after making a few adjustments, the results are in and we are prepared to safely honor our latest winners. Congratulations and thank you to all who participated.”
The 2020 Awards Day and Safety symposium had been scheduled for May 8 at Middlesex County College, and the contest was set to include 200 students from 18 different schools. After the pandemic hit, it was decided the contest should continue, and the submission deadline was extended until the end of the school year. Out of 25 submissions from 14 high schools, three winners for video and three for audio have been named.