Did you know that car crashes are the leading cause of death for 15 to 24-year-olds? It’s not gang rage, gun violence, teen suicide, or some horrific disease – it’s car crashes. That’s what’s killing our youth. In 2014 alone, over 32,000 Americans died in an automobile crash. It’s an epidemic, but it’s one we can actively do something about and have a dynamic voice in prevention.
So what can you do?
There are a variety of ways that you can make a difference in your community:
- You can use your voice to stand up against distracted driving (the major cause of crashes in the 15-24 age group). You can serve as an example; don’t text while driving or involve yourself in any other distractions behind the wheel. Then ask your family, friends and others to follow suit.
- When you’re in the car with friends be courageous and speak up if someone is texting or otherwise driving distracted. Remind everyone to wear their seatbelts. Don’t let your friends drive under the influence. Take their keys. You may feel embarrassed speaking up in any of these circumstances, but it’s a lot cooler than getting in a crash.
- You can be a positive influence on you friends, family and peers – and maybe save some lives in the process.
And how can you do it?
Glad you asked. When my son Hunter was killed in a car crash at age 16, we immediately started a campaign to warn youth of the possible dangers that await you in a car. We created a scholarship competition where young people speak out to their peers and spread the word about the deadly consequences of driving distracted. There’s no one better to talk about this then those who are most impacted – you have the ability to connect and resonate with each other in a way that adults can’t touch.
The result was Project Yellow Light/Hunter Garner Scholarship – a scholarship competition for high school junior & seniors and college students. What started in Hunter’s high school is now a national competition reaching young people throughout the country. Project Yellow Light partners with the Ad Council, Clear Channel Outdoor, Mazda Motorsports, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, National Organizations for Youth Safety and U-Haul.
There are two arms to the competition:
- Video Design – The video contest asks participants to produce a 25 or 55 second video warning peers of the dangers of texting while driving. The top winner from both high school and college have their videos turned into a Public Service Advertisement by the Ad Council and distributed to over 1,700 TV stations across the country for broadcast.
- Billboard Design – The billboard competition (also on texting and driving) invites entrants to create a design specifically fashioned for an outdoor billboard. The high school and college winners will have their designs turned into professional boards and displayed across the nation courtesy of Clear Channel Outdoor.
Both contests provide an opportunity for you to do good, to gain some notoriety, and most importantly – to make a difference.
As mother of the late Hunter Garner and founder of Project Yellow Light, Julie Garner has has a passion for distracted driving. You can learn more about Project Yellow light on their website, follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.