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Teen Wins National "DRIVE2LIFE" Contest; H. S. Junior's Idea Picked From More Than 1,300 Entries

New York, NY, April 11, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- (http://www.myprgenie.com) -- A 16-year old high school student from Canandaigua, N.Y., has won the fourth annual Drive2Life PSA Competition, sponsored by The National Road Safety Foundation, Inc. and Scholastic, the global children's publishing, education and media company. Students in grades 6--12 were invited to submit a script, storyboard, or written treatment on ways to prevent distracted driving. The concept for the winning 30-second TV ad titled "Safety Signs," by Olivia Yavorek, shows messages in unexpected places to point out things that can cause distracted driving, such as "Don't eat and drive" and "Put your cellphone away." It will be produced as an ad that will air nationwide on Teen Kids News during Global Youth Traffic Safety Month in May.

Yavorek's idea was chosen from more than 1,300 entries received from teens nationwide. The junior at Canandaigua Academy will receive a $1,000 prize and a trip to New York City to spend two days working with the producers of the nationally-syndicated TV series "Teen Kids News" to film and edit her winning idea.

"I thought it would be a unique twist to blend signs we see every day as we travel in our neighborhoods with distracted driving messages," Yavorek said. Her teacher, Deborah Sutherland, told her about the contest, knowing she has an interest in film. The teen said she hopes to study film, art, or a related creative field in college.

"Olivia's idea was chosen because it visually communicates what distractions can be and how to avoid them, with a reminder of how nice it is to arrive home safely," said David Reich of The National Road Safety Foundation, which produces films and teaching materials that help young people understand the dangers of distraction behind the wheel.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, who has been supportive of the Drive2Life Contest, said, "Driving requires our full attention. When you're behind the wheel, that is not the time to try to multi-task by texting, using your cellphone or anything else that takes your eyes and mind off the road."

Sec. LaHood noted that traffic crashes are the number one killer of teens, with more than 5,000 young people dying every year and tens of thousands injured. "Every tragic crash caused by distracted driving is 100 percent preventable," he said. "If we're serious about changing people's behavior behind the wheel, then we need motivated young people like Olivia to help spread the word on film, at school and in their community."

Francie Alexander, Chief Academic Officer at Scholastic, said, "We know from our years of working with teachers and listening to kids that they thrive when given projects connected to solving real-world problems. Bringing this conversation into the classroom is just another way to get students to talk about it and share ways to make a positive change in their community and country."

Yavorek and her winning PSA will be profiled on "Teen Kids News" on more than 220 TV stations throughout the U.S. and in upcoming Scholastic classroom magazines, to be used by more than 800,000 students and more than 50,000 teachers.

Four runners-up were also selected in the nationwide competition, each winning a $500 prize. Runners-up in the 6th -- 8th Grade category are Caitlin Cooper, 13, an 8th -grader at Marley Park Elementary in Surprise, AZ, and Alexandra Miranda, 12, a 6th-grader at Blessed Sacrament School in Washington, DC. Runners-up in 9th -- 12th Grade category are Annika Reitenga, 15, a 9th-grader at Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham, AL, and Lila MacDonald, 15, a sophomore at West Scranton H.S. in Scranton, PA.

Founded 50 years ago, the non-profit National Road Safety Foundation produces traffic safety programs on speed and aggressive driving, drinking and driving, drowsy and distracted driving. It distributes the programs, free of charge, to schools, police and traffic safety advocates, community groups and individuals. For more information and to download free programs, visit www.nrsf.org.

For more information about Scholastic, visit http://mediaroom.scholastic.com.

CONTACT: David Reich, david@reichcommunications.com, 212 573-6000 Source:The National Road Safety Foundation, Inc.