More than 10,000 drivers were involved in distracted driving crashes on Colorado roads in 2020, resulting in nearly 1,500 injuries and 68 deaths – a 74% increase in fatalities from 2019. Unfortunately, Colorado’s distracted driving laws have hindered enforcement. Adult drivers in Colorado may use their cellphone for voice calls but are prohibited from sending a text. To issue a citation, current law requires that law enforcement officials see the driver using their mobile device to transmit data and that they are operating the motor vehicle in a careless or imprudent manner.
Through a grant from GHSA and General Motors, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) expanded its anti-distracted driving effort by sponsoring a video contest in partnership with high schools across the state. The goal was to inspire the next generation of drivers to lend their creativity and voice to educate their peers, families and community members about this prevalent, critical traffic safety issue.
Students were invited to submit their most convincing distracted driving public service announcements (PSA). The video prompt was simple: “How would you convince your friends, family and peers to stop driving distracted?” CDOT engaged with 12 Colorado high schools and formed a panel of distracted driving survivor advocates to provide input on the PSAs.
The finalists were invited to a celebration held at Denver’s Lumenati Productions on May 18, 2023, and given a behind-the-scenes tour of the production studio. Greeley West High School student Kaileen Rudolph created the winning PSA and was awarded $2,000. Her entry features a young driver who goes out after dark to pick up her sibling and is struck by an oncoming vehicle while taking her eyes off the road to check an incoming message on her cellphone.
Ongoing Project Impact
The winning PSA will be featured in CDOT’s distracted driving campaign, airing in ads for audiences across the state. Plans to implement another PSA contest are underway and CDOT plans to continue connecting and engaging with high schoolers statewide to contribute to their distracted driving campaigns.
CDOT recognizes the success of the PSA contest to the interest and talents of the recruited youth. They recommend partnering with high schools or youth-led organizations when creating campaigns to effectively reach your target audience.