Two North Carolina high school students won a national competition by producing a video to educate young drivers about the dangers of distracted driving.
Kirklin "Mack" Hopkins, 17, and Kellen Stadler, 18, won the Toyota TeenDrive365 Video Challenge with a poignant public service announcement titled It's Not Fine." Both students graduated this week from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in Charlotte, N.C. More than 1,300 videos were submitted to inspire safe driving habits.
The video opens with Sarah riding in the vehicle as her older sister Ellie texts and drives. Sarah says, "Mom said not to." Ellie says, "It's fine. I do it all the time. It's only for a second." The video cuts to years later, with Sarah now old enough to drive and behind the wheel. Believing "it's fine" to text and drive, Sarah follows her sister's example, with devastating consequences.
"We are very proud of the powerful video storytelling by Mack and Kellen," said Dr. Clayton Wilcox, superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, in a press release. "It drives home the dangers of texting and driving in a dramatic, effective way. As a national PSA, it could save lives by showing what happens when you text and drive."
The students were awarded $15,000 and the opportunity to turn their video into a TV-ready public service announcement.
Toyota's TeenDrive365 program provides educators, parents and teenagers with safe driving materials. The video challenge is in its seventh years and has received thousands of video submissions over the years. See the winnning video here.
Other winners include:
Second place: Porter Christensen, a student at Pine View High School in Saint George, Utah. He received $10,000 for creating the video "Stupid Stats."
Third place: Jake Wieners, a student at Agawam High School in Agawam, Mass. He received $7,500 for the video "Don't Blind Yourself."