Our high school students are at it once again and this time Governor Malloy, Attorney General Jepson and safety advocates from around CT have gotten involved. It is the 2013 Connecticut DMV teen safe driving video contest. This year's public service video competition attracted more than 128 entries that involved almost 500 students statewide. This year's student designated theme was "Teen Safe Driving: Are You In?" which provided for a wide range of creativity among the high school student contest submissions.
Governor Malloy, Attorney General Jepson, Travelers Insurance Company executives, who sponsor the statewide contest, and other teen driving safety advocates chose their top 10 best student made videos and then selected the five overall winners. Governor Malloy stated, "I applaud the students for their great work and their commitment to safety. We have some of the strictest teen driving laws in the nation-laws that help keep our youngest drivers safe-but that is only half the battle. Ensuring our teen drivers have the information they need to develop good driving habits and be responsible behind the wheel will keep Connecticut's roads safer for everyone."
Governor Malloy and 26 other finalist judges discussed the impact of these 25 second video public service commercials which have been produced for promoting safety messages on television, websites and through other forms of social media. The contest aims to further educate teens and their parents about safe driving practices. The top 10 videos, which are listed alphabetically, can be viewed at http://www.YouTube.com/teensafedriving12 and are as follows:
- Arts at the Capitol Theater, Willimantic
- Daniel Hand High School, Madison (2)
- Hall High School, West Hartford (3 ranking videos)
- New Canaan High School
- Simsbury High School
- Weston High School
- Waterbury Arts Magnet High School
Attorney General Jepson stated "the creativity and the quality of the videos were impressive. The participants should be proud of their work and their efforts to bring home this important message to teen and adult drivers. We all need to be in on safe driving." Andy Bessette, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrator Officer of the Travelers stated "we thank all of the students this year for taking a leadership role in spreading the important message about safe teen driving. This contest continues to be a great way for teens to reach their peers and remind them about the responsibility they have when they get behind the wheel."
"This contest and the students involvement helps us with the high visibility needed for spreading the message continually about teen safe driving," said Connecticut DMV Commissioner Melanie A. Currey, pointing out that the contest began after Connecticut's historic overhaul in 2008 of its teen driving laws. Nationally, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15 to 20-year-olds, which comprises approximately one third of all deaths for this demographic. Among the risk factors is overconfidence and risk taking behaviors, which students have set forth in the videos as recognizable safety hazards.
Travelers Insurance Company, as the contest corporate sponsor, awards to the winning high schools: $5000 for first place; $4000 for second place; $3000 for third place; $2000 for fourth place; and $1000 for fifth place. The winners will be announced during an April 2, 2013 awards ceremony.
Connecticut is recognized as one of the national leaders in enacting and upgrading teen safe driving legislation. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in 2012 calculated that Connecticut was leading the country in having the fewest crashes among the 50 states. Another recent study indicated that the 2008 legislative upgrades were associated with a further decrease in crashes. Connecticut's 16 and 17-year-old drivers have shown a significant reduction in crash rates relative to older Connecticut drivers and when compared to other 16 and 17-year-olds throughout the country. Support for our teen driving laws remains high with over 85% of parents indicating that they are effective in reducing crashes, injuries and deaths.
David Shapiro, M.D., a trauma surgeon at St. Francis Medical Center in Hartford stated "a significant drop in teen traffic fatalities demonstrates that not only has legislation made an impressive impact but it also appears that teens, their peers and their parents are taking an active role by abiding by the laws to improve their safety behind the wheel. This all started with institution of the laws and those affected by the laws responded to it."
The work of these high school students is quite impressive and is to be applauded. It would be wonderful if more schools across the state got involved in this contest so that there could be greater statewide representation and a larger reach in educating students throughout the state about the great need to engage in safer driving techniques. If your school was not represented in this contest, please strongly consider getting involved in next year's contest. It provides for an amazing learning experience and an opportunity to develop team building skills. The great cross-section of people involved in this project underscores the great importance of this much-needed message.
Richard P. Hastings is a Connecticut personal injury lawyer at Hastings, Cohan & Walsh, LLP, with offices throughout the state. He is a member of the CT DMV Commissioner's Advisory Committee on Teen Safe Driving. He has been named a New England Super Lawyer and is the author of the books: "The Crash Course on Child Injury Claims"; "The Crash Course on Personal Injury Claims in Connecticut" and "The Crash Course on Motorcycle Accidents." He has also co-authored the best selling book "Wolf in Sheep's Clothing- What Your Insurance Company Doesn't Want You to Know and Won't Tell You Until It's Too Late!" He can be reached at 1(888)CTLAW-00 or by visitingwww.hcwlaw.com.