“Leave your phone alone until you get home,” is the message of a new public service announcement hitting the airwaves throughout Wisconsin. It was scripted, filmed and produced by middle school students from Indian Community School as part of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation Inter-Tribal Task Force One Day Media Camp.
The message takes on additional importance for young people amid the “100 deadliest days” between Memorial Day and Labor Day when crashes involving teenage drivers increase. Over the past five years, statewide records indicate that teenage drivers are behind the wheel for roughly 13 distracted driving crashes every day statewide during the months of June, July and August.
“It is inspiring and encouraging to see young people actively engaged in discussions about what it takes to be a safer driver,” WisDOT Secretary Dave Ross said. “No matter who is behind the wheel, distracted driving creates a danger for us all, and we ask that all motorists keep their focus on the road.”
Some of these crashes are deadly. Of the 5,968 teenage distracted driving crashes reviewed in the summer months of 2013-2017, more than 1,949 led to injuries and 11 were fatal. Distracted driving crashes increase overall in summertime, but teenagers see a larger percentage jump (up 18 percent) compared to all other months of the year.
“There are no words to fully describe the loss of a loved one in a traffic crash,” Superintendent JD Lind said. “One death is one too many and we’re encouraged to see this group of dedicated young people trying to do something about it.”
Distracted driving is just one concern out on the road, as alcohol, aggressive driving and failure to use seatbelts are common examples of other factors involved in the 101 summer-month crashes with teenage drivers over the past five years.
“The phone is just one part of this, but it’s become such an increasingly common part that we felt that’s where we’d be best to focus our attention,” said the students from Indian Community School in Franklin, WI. “It’s horrible to think about a parent, friend or older brother or sister never coming home because of a call or a text.”
The ad can be viewed at: https://youtu.be/0Uq6hLTB1KY
The One Day Media Camp paired the students, ages 10 to 13, with a professional creative firm to get hands-on training in all elements of video production, from scripting to lighting and final production. Because Native Americans in Wisconsin and nationwide are among those at highest risk to be involved in a fatal motor vehicle crash, WisDOT’s Inter-Tribal Task Force created the One Day Media Camp to help enhance discussions of safety in tribal communities.