At Elephant, one of our most important goals is to ensure the safety of our community, especially the roads we drive on every day. One way we strive towards this goal is through our support of Project Yellow Light, a national scholarship competition that was founded by Julie Garner, who lost her teenage son Hunter Garner in a car accident in 2007. The national Hunter Garner Scholarship competition shares our aims to encourage all people, especially teens, to practice safe driving habits and to educate the public about the dangers of distracted driving. Project Yellow Light has been running this scholarship competition for eleven years now. In that time, they have awarded over 107 scholarships totaling nearly $243,000. They have supported so many teens and reached countless people with their message.

Elephant has sponsored Project Yellow Light for four years now, and in that time, the company has contributed $80,000 towards scholarships and the annual competition – all with the goal to educate teens and adults on safe driving habits.

Project Yellow Light founder Julie Garner says, “working to spread the critical message about the dangers of distracted driving is so important. Our student scholarship winners use their voices and creativity to impact young drivers and help save lives. The support of our partners, including Elephant Insurance, allows us to keep funding scholarships and reach more people about the dangers of distracted driving.”

Elephant supports Project Yellow Light alongside national partners like the Ad Council, Clear Channel Outdoor, iHeartMedia, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, National 4-H Council, the National Organizations for Youth Safety, and WKRN-TV Nashville.

For the scholarship competition high school and college students have created safe-driving TV, radio, or billboard PSAs that focus on educating their peers about the dangers they face if they drive distracted. A specific focus was paid attention to the dangers of messaging while driving and the role that cell phones can play when it comes to distracted driving. The winning submissions will be featured on a digital billboard in New York City’s Times Square on June 24. The PSAs will continue to garner national attention through 1,800 TV stations nationwide, iHeartMedia radio stations, and Clear Channel Outdoors’s more than 1,500 digital displays across the U.S.

2022 Scholarship Competition Winners

We are extremely excited to announce the 2022 competition winners. The Hunter Garner scholarship competition was extremely competitive this year receiving nearly 1,900 submissions. Entries came in from students representing nearly all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The 2022 scholarship prizes were awarded to six entrants this year. Listed below are the names and categories of the 2022 winners, along with their thoughts on the creative process, what this scholarship means to them, and most importantly their new perspectives on safe-driving practices.

Straight from the winners

Winning Formula (video, high school): Justin Hutcheson (Rockwall, TX)

Justin was asked, “How have your driving habits changed since submitting your entry?”

Justin: I am more aware of how important it is to focus and concentrate on the road.  This includes things like, not messing with the radio, eating, or even daydreaming.

“What are your tips for creating a message that resonates with people your age?”

Justin: What my mom loves to say is this, “You only hear 10% of what I say, so I am going to say it ten times.”  This is very true, and means that constant reminders are effective. The reminder shouldn’t be repetitive, but a new way of saying the same core message. Something that will remind my age group the importance of safe driving, all the time.

Eyes Up (video, college): Emiliano Diaz Capt (Akron, OH)

Emiliano was asked, “How did you land on your creative vision?”

Emiliano: From the beginning, I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do for this project. I wanted to personify the dangers of checking and sending texts as physical obstacles to avoid. I wanted to illustrate that even the act of course correction from distraction is not always enough, and that on the road one must be vigilant at all times.

“What will this scholarship mean to you or allow you to do?”

Emiliano: This scholarship means the absolute world to me, and will help me get one big step closer to completing my degree, and pursuing my dreams of working in the visual effects, and film industry. Though I know the journey ahead of me will be long and difficult, this scholarship has lifted a huge weight off of my shoulders and I couldn’t be more grateful for this incredible gift.

Text or Drive (billboard design, high school): Isabella Kaake (Marlette, MI)

Isabella was asked, “How did you hear about the Project Yellow Light competition?

Isabella: Back in the fall, I was encouraged by my parents to apply for as many scholarships as I can. So, I made my way to Google and searched for “creative scholarships.” That is when a landed on the Project Yellow Light competition. Not only was I moved by the story behind the contest, but I was also thrilled to find a scholarship that let me utilize my creative talents.

“If you could offer one piece of advice about not texting and driving, what would it be?”

Isabella: Never use your phone when you are behind the wheel. If this is a struggle for you, it may be necessary to put your phone on silent and keep it in a spot in your car that you cannot access while driving. Remember, one text message isn’t worth your life.

Impossible Multitask (billboard design, college): Connor Avila (Mauldin, SC)

Connor was asked, “What do you think makes an impactful PSA?”

Connor: The message has to be clear, concise, and meaningful. I decided on the slogan “If You’re Texting, Who’s Driving?” because it highlights the very clear fact that if you’re texting then you’re unable to be driving. You can’t do both. Many people know this implicitly, but to have a billboard spell it out clearly I think would make an impact because it is something most people know to be true and choose to ignore.

“What will this scholarship mean to you or allow you to do?”

Connor: This scholarship means an unbelievable amount to me. My fellow college students can attest that schooling is very expensive and a scholarship of this amount assists my journey at University massively. Currently I hold three jobs as a warehouse worker, RHA Vice President, and Student Government Senator. I do enjoy every job I have, but holding the three simultaneously is out of an anxiety that any less won’t be enough to pay for school. This scholarship provides me with support and for that I am extremely grateful.

School Drive (radio, high school): Noah Brechbill (Schwenksville, PA)

Noah was asked, “Why did you enter the Project Yellow Light competition?”

Noah: My TV Productions teacher brought up this contest as a possible creative outlet. I’ve had an interest in audio projects for a while (mostly music, but sometimes podcasts or radio) and thought that it would be an interesting project to both challenge my skills and spread a good message.

“If you could offer one piece of advice about not texting and driving, what would it be?”

Noah: Put the phone away, right away. Just about every distraction stems from the phone. Nothing you can do from your phone is as protecting your life in a vehicle.

Messages Unseen (radio, college): Asher Mitchell (Watford City, ND)

Asher was asked, “What do you think makes an impactful PSA?”

Asher: Being poignant and upfront I think helps. Maybe add a touch of humor as well.

“How have your driving habits changed since submitting your entry?”

Asher: I used to change my music while driving. Now I have my passenger do it or I pull over to change it. I never used to do that.

Judging the entries

A number of advertising industry executives and artists lent their time to judging the entries. This year’s panel included recording artist and songwriter Aloe Blacc; renowned filmmaker and social activist Kweku Mandela; dentsu international Global CEO Wendy Clark; Wordsworth + Booth President Tony Mennuto; Co-Chairman and Partner of Goodby Silverstein & Partners Jeff Goodby; and representatives from the Martin Agency, Pereira O’Dell and Project Yellow Light partners the Ad Council, Clear Channel Outdoor, Elephant Insurance, iHeartMedia and National 4-H Council.

Congratulations to the 2022 Project Yellow Light scholarship competition winners. To view this year’s winning entries, visit the Project Yellow Light website.

Making a difference

A driving force for the Elephant herd is to create positive change. When it comes to our core business of auto insurance, we focus on how we can make a difference on the road. If raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving leads to less fatalities on the road, then we’re all in. Each year, Elephant has a renewed sense of pride seeing the messages and PSAs created by young people when it comes to the dangers on the road. And this year is no different, our entire team is looking forward to seeing the winning entries take on Times Square.

For more information on distracted driving, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website.


Article last updated on June 25th, 2023 at 7:06 pm

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