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Bruce Gordon, Director of Communications
Nathan Bowie  (651) 201-7571
October 05, 2012
Teens Turn Cameras on to Seat Belts, Distracted Driving in TV Commercial Contest
AAA Provides Grand Prize of $1,000; Entries Due April 15, 2013
ST. PAUL — Minnesota teenagers, here’s your chance to go viral: Students in grades 9–12 are called on to produce a 30-second TV public service announcement promoting the importance of buckling up or the dangers of distracted driving. The top teen will win $1,000 and their spot will air during the televised MTV Video Music Awards in 2013.

The Buckle Up and Pay Attention Teens! TV Commercial Challenge allows teens to choose their safety topic: seat belts or distracted driving. The contest is sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety and AAA. The deadline for entries is Monday, April 15, 2013.

The contest’s finalists will be selected by DPS and AAA for a public online vote in May 2013. AAA will award first-, second- and third-place winners with $1,000, $600 and $400, respectively.

“Traffic crashes are the leading killer of teens and this contest is one way to steer attention to common problems with teens behind the wheel,” says Gordy Pehrson, DPS teen driving coordinator. “When teens share their creations with peers, it enhances the value and importance of the message.”

Driver inexperience, risk-taking behavior, distractions, nighttime driving and seat belt non-use are the leading reasons for teen driving crashes and resulting deaths. In Minnesota during 2009–2011, 108 teen vehicle occupants (ages 13–19), were killed and only 35 (32 percent) were belted. Another 408 teens were seriously injured in crashes and only 226 (55 percent) were belted.

“Every year, new teen drivers take to the wheel, so it is critical that we stay focused to educate them and keep them safe,” says Gail Weinholzer, director of Public Affairs, AAA Minnesota/Iowa. “This contest promotes teen enthusiasm and creativity to encourage safe driving behavior.” 


2012 Contest Winner

The 2012 Buckle Up, Teens! contest winner was St. Michael’s Eli Guillou, who produced “Big Deal”—

Parent Roles and Responsibilities to Develop Safer Teen Drivers

DPS urges parents to talk to their teens about the life-saving importance of seat belts, and the dangers and consequences of speeding, distracted driving and alcohol use.

Parents are encouraged to continue to provide supervised experience for their teen driver in a variety of conditions and road types and use a parent-teen driver contract to establish road rules, reinforce the laws and follow through with consequences. 

“Parent involvement is especially important during the first year of licensure, which is the most dangerous time for teen drivers,” says Pehrson.


About the Office of Traffic Safety

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) designs, implements, and coordinates federally funded traffic safety enforcement and education programs to improve driver behaviors and reduce the deaths and serious injuries that occur on Minnesota roads. OTS also administers state funds for motorcycle safety programs and child seats for needy families.

OTS is an anchoring partner of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths traffic safety initiative. 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.


Office of Traffic Safety Highlights




445 Minnesota Street, Suite 100 | Saint Paul, Minnesota 55101-5155 |