For Julie and Lowell Garner, June 10th, 2007 will be one of the worst days of their lives. Hunter, their 16-year-old son, was involved in a fatal car crash. His family would go on to create Project Yellow Light, a short film and billboard scholarship competition that raises awareness against distracted driving.
Project Yellow Light scholarship applicants are encouraged to have one clear mission in their submissions: “Encourage your peers to develop and embrace safe driving habits.”
In 2014 alone, 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 people were injured in car crashes involving distracted driving according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
“It made my friends more aware of the dangers (of distracted driving),” said Emily McDonald, the winner of the 2016 Project Yellow Light billboard scholarship.
Emily created the billboard ad “Better left unread than dead” that will be featured on 1,000 billboards across the nation.
“I’ve learned that a group of people can come together behind one idea and can really push this campaign and make a difference,” Emily said. “Being involved showed me that just because I don’t (text and drive) doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. There are plenty of ways to prevent car crashes.”
As Emily began to brainstorm and create her ad, she had one philosophy in mind: “It needed to be very simple and in just a few seconds I wanted people to know what it means.”
Her billboard, a simple black background with the text and the familiar text messaging app icon with unread notifications is quick and easy to read.
Since 2012, Mazda Motorsports has been the sponsor of the Project Yellow Light scholarship to inform drivers of the dangers of distracted driving. Mazda Motorsports and Project Yellow Light use peer-to-peer communication to combat the dangers of distracted driving.
“With so many teenage race drivers competing with Mazda, we saw that we had both a responsibility and an opportunity to highlight the dangers of distracted driving,” said John Doonan, director of motorsports, Mazda North American Operations. “While young drivers may not always listen to their parents’ advice or direction, we have professional racers in our programs who, being the same age, can explain the difference between right and wrong with the credibility of a friend.”
For more information on Project Yellow Light, click here.