Contest Received 2,100 Submissions to Educate About the Dangers of Distracted Driving

RICHMOND, VA (July 29, 2020) – Today, Richmond-based nonprofit Project Yellow Light, along with the Ad Council, announced the winners of the ninth annual Hunter Garner Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded to the winners of the Project Yellow Light competition, a competition where high school and college students create Public Service Announcements to warn their peers of the dangers of distracted driving, specifically using a phone while driving.

The six winning PSAs, selected from more than 2,100 submissions, will receive a scholarship and be revealed today on a digital billboard in New York City’s Times Square, in space donated by Clear Channel Outdoor.

Entries were received from students representing all fifty states and Washington, D.C. The 2020 scholarship prizes were awarded to the following winners:

  • First Domino (video, high school): Joanne Sakamoto (Roanoke, VA)
  • Phone Down (video, college): Kambria Cook (N. Chesterfield, VA)
  • Eyes on the Road (billboard design, high school): Jami Pandiscio (Franklin, MA)
  • It’s Simple (billboard design, college): Sierra Fentress (Sykesville, MD)
  • You Can Wait (radio, high school): Miriam Zuo (Sugar Land, TX)
  • Telegraphing Catastrophe (radio, college): Matthew Merrill (Frisco, TX)

Project Yellow Light was established in 2007 by Julie Garner, Executive Manager to the CEO at the Martin Agency, along with husband Lowell and daughter Alexandra, to honor her son Hunter Garner’s memory after his death in a car crash at age 16.

“A huge thanks to our amazing partners, participants and especially our 2020 winners for spreading this critical message about the dangers of distracted driving,” said Garner. “I’m so proud of our student winners who are using their voice and creativity to impact young drivers and help save lives.”

Project Yellow Light handed out its first scholarship in 2008 and since then has provided more than $185,000 in scholarships. Since 2011, Project Yellow Light has partnered with the Ad Council to turn the winning submissions into PSAs that receive national exposure through 1,600 TV stations nationwide, iHeartMedia radio stations, and Clear Channel Outdoor’s nearly 2,000 digital displays.

Richmond-based Elephant Insurance has partnered with Project Yellow Light since 2018. Elephant chose to support the organization due to its shared commitment to safe driving practices and being part of the solution when it comes to keeping the roads safe.

“It’s extremely meaningful for us to partner with Project Yellow Light because they are doing important work to bring attention to the dangers of distracted driving,” said Elephant CEO Alberto Schiavon. “We’re grateful to be part of Project Yellow Light’s effort to allow high school and college students the opportunity to flourish through their art while creating anti-distracted driving messaging that resonates with their peers. Congratulations to this year’s winners for delivering impactful messaging.”

According to the latest data, 2,841 people were killed in crashes involving distracted drivers in 2018. Texting while driving is an especially problematic trend among younger drivers. In 2018, 8 percent of teen (15-19) drivers involved in deadly crashes were distracted at the time of the crashes.*

A host 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 Aegis Network 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, Apparent Insurance, AT&T’s It Can Wait, CCO, Elephant Insurance and iHeartMedia.

*Data Source:


About Elephant

Elephant is a consumer-focused car insurance company headquartered in Richmond, VA with the aim to put its customers at the center of all efforts. Elephant Insurance is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Admiral Group, plc., one of the U.K.’s leading insurers with a presence in eight countries and over 6 million customers worldwide. More information is available at

About Project Yellow Light

Project Yellow Light is a film, billboard and radio scholarship competition where high school and college students create compelling stories persuading their peers to develop safe driving habits. This project gives students a voice and a role in preventing car crashes — one of the leading causes of death of teenagers and young adults in the U.S. Project Yellow Light was created by Julie, Lowell and Alex Garner in memory of their son/brother, Hunter, who died tragically in a car crash in 2007. Each year the winners receive the Hunter Garner Scholarship. More information is available at

Partners of Project Yellow Light include AT&T’s It Can Wait, Apparent Insurance, Clear Channel Outdoor (CCO), iHeartMedia, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS). Scholarships for this year’s winning students are provided with support from Aspire, AT&T’s $500 million commitment to education and skilling, Apparent Insurance, Clear Channel Outdoor, iHeart Media and Elephant Insurance.

Media Contacts:

Project Yellow Light
Julie Garner

Elephant Insurance
Julia Surber

Article last updated on August 9th, 2023 at 10:13 am