The Ad Council and Project Yellow Light announced the winners of the 12th annual Project Yellow Light scholarship competition, a unique opportunity in which students create TV, radio and billboard PSAs to educate their peers about the dangers of distracted driving, specifically the dangers of using your phone while driving. The winning PSAs will be showcased on June 30 on a digital billboard in New York City’s Times Square, in space donated by Clear Channel Outdoor.
“With over 2,600 submissions this year, coming from all 50 states and D.C., we are ecstatic to announce the 2023 Hunter Garner Scholarship winners and celebrate their important role in our mission of saving lives,” said Project Yellow Light Founder, Julie Garner. “Thanks to the creativity of these students and our partners’ support, we are making a difference by reducing the number of crashes caused by distracted driving.”
Project Yellow Light was established in 2007 by the family of Hunter Garner to honor his memory after his death in a car crash at age 16. In 2021, drivers in the 15-20 age group made up 8 percent of drivers in fatal crashes but were 11 percent of all distracted drivers and 16 percent of drivers distracted by cell phones in fatal crashes. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of the fatal crashes.
For nearly 12 years, Project Yellow Light and the Ad Council have collaborated to place the winning student PSAs on 1,800 TV stations, iHeartMedia radio stations, and Clear Channel Outdoor’s total of more than 1,700 digital displays across the U.S.
“Peers are crucial messengers to reach teens, and this message of saving lives from distracted driving is as timely as ever,” said Michelle Hillman, Ad Council Chief Campaign Development Officer. “For 12 years, we have been continuously impressed by the talent and creativity shown by our winning students and their PSAs. We are thrilled for this year’s student winners.”
Supporting partners include Clear Channel Outdoor (CCO), Elephant Insurance, iHeartMedia, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), National 4-H Council, the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS), PIX 11, and WKRN-TV Nashville. Scholarships for this year’s winning students are supported through Clear Channel Outdoor and Elephant Insurance.
The contest received over 2,600 submissions this year. Entries were received from students representing all 50 states and Washington, D.C. The 2023 scholarship prizes were awarded to:
- A Dinosaur’s Distraction (video, high school): Madison Salee (Wylie, TX)
- Self-Care (video, college): Zoë Taylor (Overland Park, KS), Rachel Ankeney (Fort Worth, TX), Bethany Curtis (Memphis, TN)
- On and Off (billboard design, high school): Sydney Waldrop (Bothell, WA)
- Don’t Scroll (billboard design, college): Jami Pandiscio (Franklin, MA)
- Multitasker (radio, high school): Jaden Nybakken (Minneapolis, MN)
- DND (radio, college): Kambria Cook (Richmond, VA)
This year’s entries were judged by a number of advertising industry executives and artists who lent their time to support this scholarship competition. The panel for this year included recording artist and songwriter Aloe Blacc; renowned filmmaker and social activist Kweku Mandela; Wendy Clark, Partner at The Consello Group; Wordsworth + Booth President Tony Mennuto; Co-Chairman and Partner of Goodby Silverstein & Partners Jeff Goodby; award-winning poet, songwriter, and author IN-Q; and representatives from The Martin Agency, Organic and Project Yellow Light partners.
“Project Yellow Light continues to have a powerful impact in many ways, from reminding drivers to stay focused on the road to giving students the opportunity to use their voice and creativity to drive positive change,” said Dan Levi, EVP & CMO, Clear Channel Outdoor. “We applaud this year’s winners for creating these lifesaving messages and are incredibly proud to showcase their work in Times Square and across the nation.”
“It has been an honor to support Project Yellow Light and the Hunter Garner Scholarship for the past five years. We believe the peer-to-peer messaging around the dangers of distracted driving is a powerful and effective approach to protecting young drivers,” said Elephant Insurance CEO Alberto Schiavon. “Congratulations to this year’s winners for approaching this topic with passion, creativity and technical skill.”
“iHeart’s partnership with Project Yellow Light, now in its sixth year, remains a critical initiative for iHeart,” said Jessica King, Senior Vice President, Communications and Community Engagement at iHeartMedia. “Vehicular fatalities are at an all-time high and distracted driving is a serious concern, especially among young people, and we hope to reach teens even more effectively through this unique campaign, using peer-to-peer created messaging to remind them to remain engaged and undistracted when driving.”
“Project Yellow Light is an incredible nationwide program that leverages the power of young people to drive social change in traffic safety,” said Jacob Smith, Executive Director, National Organizations for Youth Safety. “NOYS is proud to partner with Project Yellow Light and harness the power of young people to help prevent distracted driving.”
“PIX 11 is proud to support Project Yellow Light’s mission to curtail distracted driving. We congratulate the next generation of creative minds who produced such impactful messages,” said Alex Lee, Traffic Reporter and New York Living Contributor, PIX 11. “I’m extremely proud to support this cause that I feel so connected to.”
Through the Distracted Driving Prevention campaign, the Ad Council and NHTSA have been working together to prevent distracted driving since 2012.