The Herald Bulletin

June 10, 2013

Students' safe driving PSA wins contest

By Dani Palmer The Herald Bulletin
The Herald Bulletin

---- — ANDERSON - A teenager is at home getting ready for a night out with friends when she gets a call that her ride is close, though she is barely able to hear the message with the sound of music and chatter in the background.

She walks out to find her friends all piled into one car together. But instead of getting into the jam-packed vehicle, she decides to drive herself and meet them at their destination: making the safe decision to avoid a distracted driving situation.

That teenager was 2013 Anderson High School graduate Alexa Morris. And the above scenario was played out in the Madison County Students Against Destructive Decisions’ public service announcement that won the statewide AAA contest, along with Valparaiso’s.

The 30-second clip was produced by Brian Cook and is on YouTube and currently playing in theaters in Anderson, Muncie and the Hamilton Town Center.

Morris said she hopes seeing their peers up on the big screen, “real people,” will have teens and young adults rethinking destructive decisions.

So what happens to the friends who are making distracted decisions like texting, smoking, applying makeup, etc. while driving in the video?

They get pulled over while Morris drives on.

“Young, wild and free doesn’t have to look like that,” she said. That actually became the theme of their video.

Noah Hendershot, a junior at Lapel High School next year, said he’s already had a couple of friends see the PSA and ask him about it. He hopes the message “hits them (peers) deep to be safe.”

It’s OK to have fun, he said, but to a certain extent.

“It’s really important. Kids these days need to focus on driving,” he said. “Too many text and drive and kids are dying.”

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of deaths among U.S. teens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While the message is important, having their PSA story idea selected and turned into a commercial at all, Hendershot said, was awesome in and of itself.

He just joined SADD this year after a friend at Pendleton Heights High School invited him to meeting. And he said the group is fun while providing good lessons to the community about making safe choices.

Like the public service announcement.

“It was fun to be with all the people from the different SADD groups in the county,” Hendershot said.

Macee Sandefur, a junior at Frankton High School next year, said she’s learned that even the little things can cause distractions.

“It was actually really an eye opener even for me...” she said. “Most kids think ‘it won’t happen to me.’”

But she added that it can and that peers need to think hard about their decisions.

According to an AT&T poll, 43 percent of teens admitted to texting while driving.

But it’s not just teens doing it. That figure was even larger amongst adults at 49 percent.

That takes eyes off the road for a minimum of five seconds at a time, and if a person is driving at 55 mph, that five seconds equals out to driving about the length of a football field without looking at the road, according to textinganddrivingsafety.com

Sandefur said “no message is worth your life.” One good decision can save a life, she added.

Madison County’s SADD chapter received a $500 grant for the PSA and the group that received Indiana SADD chapter of the year is now up for the national title.