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Drive Smart: Four Years of Combating Distracted Driving


April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, a time to promote safe driving and bring attention to the importance of staying focused while on the road.

Preventing distracted driving year-round is an important goal for CTIA Wireless Foundation and the wireless industry as a whole. In 2014, as part of an ongoing effort to promote safe driving behaviors and bring awareness to the issue, the Foundation, through a partnership with By Kids For Kids, established the Drive Smart: No Distractions, No Excuses contest.

Drive Smart asks teens to create original digital shorts to discourage their peers, and the adults in their lives, from driving while distracted. Students created 15-60 second videos, which were judged on creativity, effectiveness and potential impact, and they competed for scholarships totaling $25,000.

This was the fourth year of the contest, and we received a record number of submissions, more than 600, from across the United States. A panel of VIP judges, which included executives from the automotive, advertising and wireless industries and academia, judged the top 20 and their scores were combined to determine the Grand Prize Winner, two Runner Up Honorees and three Semifinalists.

Isabel Wallace, 18, of Washington Township, Michigan was named the Grand Prize Winner for her creative digital short ‘Two Things at Once.’ Wallace showed the challenge of performing multiple tasks at the same time and used humor to illustrate the serious problem of distracted driving.

Wallace and her parents traveled to Washington, D.C. earlier this month to continue spreading the message about the dangers of distracted driving. She debuted her video to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Deputy Administrator Heidi King and CTIA Wireless Foundation Secretary Jamie Hastings during a presentation at the Department of Transportation.

“We congratulate Isabel for her work to make an impact,” said Hastings. “We have received thousands of entries since the Drive Smart contest began, and the program is successful because of passionate students like her.”

After receiving her award, Wallace told those in attendance how she herself works to stay focused on the road and also thanked her parents, sitting in the front row, for their support.


CTIA Wireless Foundation Secretary Jamie Hasting (left) with Wallace and her parents and NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi King (second from right).

While in D.C., Wallace and her parents also toured Capitol Hill and met with Congressman Paul Mitchell, the U.S. Representative for their hometown.

Wallace will attend Michigan State in the fall, which gave her plenty to discuss with Representative Mitchell, who himself is a Spartan. When asked about her academic goals, Wallace told him about her love of performing arts and also her interest in business courses.

During the presentation to NHSTA and in her meeting with Representative Mitchell, Isabel acknowledged and thanked Emma Heidrich for her assistance with filming the entry.


Wallace shows Congressman Paul Mitchell her winning video.

Isabel received a $10,000 scholarship for her winning entry. The Foundation also awarded $5,000 scholarships to the two Runner-Up Honorees and $1,000 scholarships to the three Finalists. Fourteen semifinalists were also announced. Additionally, the teachers or mentors of the top six honorees were recognized for their guidance and for their work to call attention to the dangers of distracted driving.

Year in, year out, we have been inspired by the creativity of the students participating in our Drive Smart contest, and this time was no different. The top six videos were all unique – some comedic, some dramatic, some tied to personal stories and some to pop culture. But they all had the same message: distracted driving is dangerous.

Watch the top six videos here, and remember to Drive Smart.

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