Teen Traffic safety contest returns for ’12

The North Dakota Department of Transportation, AAA North Dakota and the North Dakota Safety Council are once again sponsoring the North Dakota Teen Drivers Traffic Safety Contest, entering its third year. The contest gives North Dakota teens the opportunity to promote traffic safety in their school and community. As an added bonus, first prize contestants are eligible to win up to $750.

In the 2010 contest, three Valley City students swept the billboard competition, taking first, second and third place with their entries that promoted seat belt use and illustrated the dangers of talking on the phone or texting while driving.

“The ND Teen Drivers Traffic Safety Contest has been a valuable tool to bring focus to such an important issue,” said NDDOT Safety Director Mark Nelson. The NDDOT was excited to see over 100 entries for last year’s contest and we look forward to having another successful turnout this year.”

Car crashes are the leading cause of death among teens in North Dakota. From 2001-2009, North Dakota lost 173 teens in motor vehicle crashes. In 2009, there were 16 fatal teen driver crashes and 545 teen driver injury crashes. The Traffic Safety Contest was designed to help prevent losing teens in car crashes.

Any student, age 14 to 19, enrolled at a North Dakota middle school or high school is eligible to enter. Students are asked to develop a 30-second traffic safety video or design a traffic safety billboard focusing on distracted driving, underage drinking and driving, or seat belt use. Students may work individually, or in a group of up to five students.

“It is crucial for teens to learn good driving habits early on as it sets a good tone for the rest of their life,” said Gene LaDoucer, AAA North Dakota spokesman. “The North Dakota Teen Drivers Traffic Safety Contest is a fantastic way to allow teens to focus on various safety issues they will inevitably face while behind the wheel.”

According to AAA, teen drivers in North Dakota are involved in a crash every 2.5 hours, and “Speed/Too Fast for Conditions” and “Attention Distracted” are the top two reasons cited by law enforcement in North Dakota for teen crashes.

Submissions for the contest are due on April 4, and entry forms are available at ndteendrivers.com. The top ten finalists will be announced and public voting will begin for video and billboard entries on April 16. Winners will be announced on May 9.