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Chicago Auto Show Invites Teens to Help Spread Message About Distracted Driving Dangers

Teens from Chicagoland and neighboring states are being invited to help spread the word about the dangers of distracted driving, as the second Drive Safe Chicago PSA Contest launches from The National Road Safety Foundation, a non-profit group that promotes safe driving.  The contest is being held in conjunction with the Chicago Auto Show, which runs from Feb. 13 - 21, 2016.

The contest asks teens to submit ideas for a 30-second public service announcement that reminds viewers not to drive distracted.  The winner will receive a $2,000 award and will have the chance to work with an Emmy Award-winning TV producer to turn the script into a finished spot that will air nationwide.  It will debut at the Chicago Auto Show and will be shown on the show's social media video wall throughout the show.

"Distracted driving is a serious risk that needs to be addressed at all levels," said Colin Wickstrom, 2016 Chicago Auto Show chairman.  "Today's cars are safer than ever, with many innovations that help avoid crashes and protect occupants in the event of one.  But driver inattention - distraction - continues to be a major factor in crashes.  We hope the Drive Safe Chicago campaign engages teens to be messengers both to their peers and to all drivers that distracted driving is dangerous driving."

Last year's winner was Rachel Diaz, a junior at Porter County Career Center in Valparaiso, Ind.  Her PSA shows four teens approaching a car.  We see the keys unlocking the door and seat belts being fastened.  As the car drives away, we see and hear the teens talking and laughing loudly.  As the chatter gets louder, we see the teen driver getting distracted and becoming anxious as she tries to concentrate on driving.  We hear the driver's heartbeat getting louder and faster, and we see the driver's eyes getting a frantic look before she shuts her eyes tightly, trying to close out the noise and commotion in the car.  The screen fades to black as all the noise abruptly stops.  Text comes on the screen saying: "Distracted Driving: It's more than Texting."  The "Would you ever?" PSA can be seen at http://nrsf.org/programs/all-public-service-announcements.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates more than 3,300  people are killed every year due to distracted driving, and tens of thousands more are injured.  The most talked-about causes of distraction are texting and cell phone use, but drivers also can be distracted by use of other mobile devices like GPS, as well as adjusting sound system controls, talking with passengers or even eating.

"Anything that takes the driver's eyes off the road and mind off the task at hand is a distraction that can have serious consequences," said Michelle Anderson, Director of Operations at The National Road Safety Foundation.  "Driving requires full attention.  It's not something that can be done safely while multi-tasking." 

Teens who live in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Iowa are invited to enter by sending a script or storyboards for a TV PSA that reminds people not to drive distracted.   Entries deadline is Dec. 14, 2016 and the winner will be announced at the Chicago Auto Show.  A runner-up will receive a $1,000 award.  All entrants will receive two free tickets to the Chicago Auto Show.

Information about distracted driving and the Drive Safe Chicago Contest can be seen at www.nrsf.org/teenlane/content/drive-safe-chicago.

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