ST. PAUL — Minnesota teens have one month left to produce a 30-second TV commercial promoting seat belt use for their chance to win $1,000. Spots are due April 23.
The Buckle Up, Teens! TV Commercial Challenge contest is sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety and AAA Minnesota/Iowa. (Rules and entry forms are online at the link above.)
The relevance of the contest is underscored by recent DPS news that only three (10 percent) of the 30 back-seat passengers ages 13–24 killed during 2008–2010 were buckled up. During this same timeframe, 100 teen vehicle occupants were killed and only 39 were belted.
The contests’ finalists will be selected by DPS and AAA Minnesota/Iowa for a public online vote in May. AAA Minnesota/Iowa will award first-, second- and third-place winners with $1,000, $600 and $400, respectively. The winning spot will air during the MTV Video Music Awards this summer.
“This contest is an opportunity for teens to educate their peers about the importance of buckling up, and that’s a message teens need to hear,” says Gordy Pehrson, DPS youth programs coordinator.
Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in Minnesota due to driver inexperience, risk-taking behavior, distractions, nighttime driving, speeding and seat belt non-use.
“A primary focus of AAA is to reduce teen driver crashes and tragedies,” says Gail Weinholzer, director of Public Affairs, AAA Minnesota/Iowa. “This contest can really engage teenagers to think about these important messages and educate their friends.”
In 2011, the TV contest focused on the dangers of distracted driving. The winning spot, “Football,” was produced by Stillwater Area High School students.
To-date in 2012, there have been 66 traffic deaths, up 47 percent from the 45 deaths at this time in 2011.
Teen seat belt enforcement and education efforts are a component of the state’s core traffic safety initiative, Toward Zero Deaths (TZD). A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes — education, enforcement, engineering and emergency trauma response.