Project Yellow Light and distracted driving awareness

project yellow light and elephant insurance

Our aim at Elephant is to help make sure the roads you drive on are safe and distraction-free. One way we do this is through our partnership with 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. This national scholarship competition is dedicated to encouraging teens and adults alike to practice safe driving habits and to educate everyone about the dangers of distracted driving, particularly with teen drivers. Since its start, Project Yellow Light has awarded over 95 scholarships totaling nearly $200,000. This year marks the tenth year of the Project Yellow Light national scholarship competition, and these numbers grow each year as more scholarships are awarded.

Elephant has sponsored Project Yellow Light for three years, and in that time, the company has contributed $65,000 towards scholarships and the annual competition – all with the goal to educate teens and adults on safe driving habits.

Elephant supports Project Yellow Light alongside national partners like the Ad Council, AT&T’s It Can Wait, Clear Channel Outdoor, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

To enter the scholarship competition, students create a TV, radio, or billboard PSA to educate their peers about the dangers of distracted driving, specifically the dangers of messaging while driving and the role that cell phones can play when it comes to distracted driving. The winning submissions are turned into PSAs that will be showcased on June 28 on a digital billboard in New York City’s Times Square. The PSAs also receive national exposure through 1,800 TV stations nationwide, iHeartMedia radio stations, and Clear Channel Outdoors’s nearly 2,000 digital displays.

2021 Scholarship Competition Winners

Without further ado, we are proud to share the 2021 competition winners. The Project Yellow Light scholarship competition received more than 2,000 submissions this year, and entries were received from students representing all fifty states and the District of Columbia.

The 2021 scholarship prizes were awarded to six recipients this year. We are sharing the names and categories of the 2021 winners, along with the advice they would give on not texting and driving and what this scholarship will mean to them.

It’s Joust Not Worth It (video, high school): Morgan Taylor (Scottsdale, AZ)

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

Morgan: Spotify ads, your friends, phone calls, or anything else are not a good enough reason to look at your phone. It’s just not worth putting yourself and others in danger.

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

Morgan: In the film industry, it’s very competitive — especially if you’re a woman. I started shadowing on film sets when I was sixteen and have made my way up to becoming a lead PA and assistant producer on professional projects. But this project was my directorial debut and reaffirmed my belief that if I really wanted to be a film director, I could do it and make amazing things that I am proud of. I will be attending Arizona State University for their fantastic film program and I will put this to my college tuition. I will also be able to have this commercial in my professional film reel.

No One’s Good at That (video, college): Angie Benitez-Garcia (Hollywood, FL)

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

Angie: In a world of self-care, putting your phone away while driving counts as taking care of yourself.

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

Angie: This scholarship means so many things to me. It means that everyone who doubted me and my career choice (including me at times) don’t have to worry because God will take care of the rest. It also means that I have the capability to help make the nation safer through design and advertising, careers I love and hope to be a part of when I am in the workforce. Through this scholarship, I know my parents’ immigration to this country will lead to even more great things. I can also try to inspire other students like me studying visual arts or advertising.

Leave Them Unread (billboard design, high school): Mia Allen (St. Louis, MO)

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

Mia: Even though I wish it weren’t true, texting and driving is probably going to happen if the opportunity is right there in your face. My advice for my peers is to eliminate that opportunityjust put your best playlist on, turn your phone on silent, and place it face down in the cupholder or somewhere. You’ll probably be at your destination in a few minutes, and in the meantime, you can just enjoy the ride and the music (and you won’t even have to think about texting).

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

Mia: I’m definitely a worrier, so choosing colleges and majors was so stressful. I knew that I wanted to study design, but I still worried that maybe I couldn’t do it or it wasn’t the best path for me. When I found out I won this scholarship, it just felt like a sign that I should trust myself and have confidence in my abilities. It makes me excited for what I can do in the future! And of course, it will allow me to cover some of the many college expenses that I was also worrying about.

Phone Rest (billboard design, college): Diana Gonzalez Mejia (Houston, TX)

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

Diana: It’s scary to think about closing your eyes while driving. Your attention isn’t on the road and there are so many changing variables that anything could happen. The same circumstance is created when you use your phone and drive. You wouldn’t want to place yourself in that scary situation, and you don’t have to.

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

Diana: This scholarship will greatly provide me financial support towards finishing my education. It means I can focus more on learning and motivates me to continue working towards a creative career. It reminds me of the impact and responsibility we have in our communities and inspires me to think big and make positive change.

Are You a Chameleon? (radio, high school): Nathan Ong (Annandale, VA)

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

Nathan: I would say that texting and driving is proven to be nearly impossible for humans to do, so it is not a good idea to attempt it.

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

Nathan: This scholarship allows me to be one step closer to attending college. Money does not grow on trees, and as an immigrant family, we have had to work hard to get to where we are today. Receiving this scholarship eases the financial strain on my family and my parents especially.

Just Don’t (radio, college): Katie Saylor (Boonsboro, MD)

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

Katie: Just don’t— it’s not worth it. Pull over or wait till you get to your destination, please.

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

Katie: This scholarship will help to eliminate some financial stress from my life. While I was on track to finish college with nearly zero dollars in student loans, my mother’s passing in 2018 resulted in a change in my financial status, and scholarships I was awarded based on merit were withdrawn. I am fortunate that this scholarship will help to repair some of that damage.

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, AT&T’s It Can Wait, Clear Channel Outdoor, Elephant Insurance, and iHeartMedia.

Congratulations to the 2021 Project Yellow Light scholarship competition winners! To view this year’s winner entries, visit the Project Yellow Light website.

Making a difference

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.”

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

Giving back to the community is incredibly important to our Herd at Elephant. You can see additional ways that Elephant supports communities on our website.

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