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Teens asked to create safe driving TV spots

As TV spots featuring Clydesdales, cars, talking babies and colas cue up for Super Bowl Sunday, Minnesota teenagers are creating their own TV commercials to promote traffic safety.

Students in grades 9-12 are invited to produce a 30-second TV public service announcement about 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. Entries are due April 15.

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

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.