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Two Texas residents among winners in Project Yellow Light competition

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Two Texas residents were among the winners in the ninth annual Project Yellow Light scholarship competition, put on by The Ad Council and Project Yellow Light.

The contest involves students creating a TV, radio or billboard PSA to educate their peers about the dangers of distracted driving, specifically the dangers of using a phone while driving. The winning PSAs will be revealed today on a digital billboard in New York City’s Times Square, in space donated by Clear Channel Outdoor.

You Can Wait (radio, high school): Miriam Zuo (Sugar Land, TX)

Telegraphing Catastrophe (radio, college): Matthew Merrill (Frisco, TX)

First Domino (video, high school): Joanne Sakamoto (Roanoke, VA)

Phone Down (video, college): Kambria Cook (N. Chesterfield, VA)

Eyes on the Road (billboard design, high school): Jami Pandiscio (Franklin, MA)

It’s Simple (billboard design, college): Sierra Fentress (Sykesville, MD)

“Project Yellow Light is an incredible organization that continues to make this crazy world a safer place,” said college radio winner Matthew Merrill from Frisco. “Being able to contribute to their legacy with my radio submission has been an absolute honor!”

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. According to the latest data, 2,841 people were killed in crashes involving distracted drivers in 2018. Texting while driving is an especially problematic trend among younger drivers. In 2018, 8 percent of people killed in teen (15-19) driving crashes died when the teen drivers were distracted at the times of the crashes.*

The contest received 2,163 submissions this year. Entries were received from students representing all fifty states and Washington, D.C. The 2020 scholarship prizes were awarded to the following winners:

A host of advertising industry executives and artists lent their time to judging the entries. This year’s panel included recording artist and songwriter Aloe Blacc; renowned filmmaker and social activist Kweku Mandela; Dentsu Aegis Network Global CEO Wendy Clark; Wordsworth + Booth President Tony Mennuto; Co-Chairman and Partner of Goodby Silverstein & Partners, Jeff Goodby; and representatives from the Martin Agency, Pereira O’Dell and Project Yellow Light partners the Ad Council, Apparent Insurance, AT&T’s It Can Wait, CCO, Elephant Insurance and iHeartMedia.

“The main goal of the It Can Wait program is to end distracted driving by educating all drivers about the dangers of smartphone use behind the wheel,”  said AT&T AVP of Corporate Brand Marketing, Ryan Luckey. “We applaud this new generation’s efforts to use their talents to further raise awareness around this important issue.”

“A huge thanks to our amazing partners, participants and especially our 2020 Hunter Garner Scholarship winners for spreading this critical message about the dangers of distracted driving,” said Project Yellow Light founder Julie Garner. “I’m so proud of our student winners who are using their voice and creativity to impact young drivers and help save lives.”

To view the ads:


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