VIDEO: Weston students win DMV teen safe driving contest

Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, left, congratulates the winners of the DMV-Traveler’s Teen Safe Driving video contest from Weston High School — Michael Bogaev, Alex McCall, Andrew Harwood, Nathan Katz, and videography teacher Geoffrey Brencher.

Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, left, congratulates the winners of the DMV-Traveler’s Teen Safe Driving video contest from Weston High School — Michael Bogaev, Alex McCall, Andrew Harwood, Nathan Katz, and videography teacher Geoffrey Brencher.

For the second year in a row, Weston High School has won the statewide DMV-Travelers Teen Safe Driving video contest.

The winners of this year’s contest were announced Monday by Connecticut Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman.

Weston High School’s winning DMV video:

Weston High School junior Nathan Katz directed the video. Other members of the winning team were Michael Bogaev, Andrew Harwood and Alex McCall. WHS videography teacher Geoffrey Brencher served as the team’s adviser.

The challenge of the contest was to create a 45-second public service announcement-style video demonstrating the theme “One split second …” to show why it is important for teens to focus on safe driving.

More than 400 students from nearly 40 schools participated in the contest, submitting more than 150 videos.

Second-place winner was Haddam-Killingworth High School, followed by East Lyme High School in third place.

For first prize, Weston High School will receive $6,000. Students on the team will get $1,250 to split equally in gift cards.

As a special bonus, a professional film crew is meeting with the students to refilm the video to make it suitable for an ad campaign for the Department of Transportation (DOT).

The winners will be presented with their awards at a ceremony on April 13.

The Weston team’s winning video shows a female teen making a careless choice by texting while driving and getting into an accident. The video then rewinds to show the girl’s day-to-day activities before she stepped behind the wheel. It finishes with the tagline, “All it takes is one split second and you can never go back.”

Nathan came up with the idea of showing a rewind of the teen’s actions, an element that set Weston’s video apart from others that were told in a straightforward narrative. “I think that showed our creativity and enhanced the video’s emotional appeal,” Nathan said.

He was especially proud that Weston had won this contest two years in a row. “This is a testament to the video program at Weston High School,” he said.

Wyman said she applauded the contest participants for getting involved. “Teens talking to teens is an important part of the safe driving conversation; it will help keep our roads safer for everyone. Congratulations to our winners — and thanks to all the students who participated,” she said.

DMV Commissioner Michael Bzdyra said the video contest’s safety messages are especially important following a report last fall by the national Governors Highway Safety Association showing that teenager-involved road deaths increased nationally by 10% in 2015 compared to previous years.

“The fact is, our youngest drivers are crashing more often and are involved in more crashes that cause injuries,” said Neil Chaudhary, chief executive officer of Preusser Research Group, a Trumbull-based firm that conducts transportation research studies nationwide.

Many of the videos submitted in the contest featured some kind of safety precaution about distracted driving, a problem that a majority of Americans see as something that other people do much more than they do themselves. The 2016 Travelers Risk Index, an annual measurement of Americans’ feelings about risk in their daily lives, found that 76% of people are very concerned about another driver’s distractions causing a crash, yet only 33% worry about getting into an accident due to their own distracted driving.

“We are proud to be a part of the DMV-Travelers Teen Safe Driving Video Contest each year, which gives teens a platform to talk to each other about changing behaviors and safer driving,” said Eric Nordquist, of Travelers. “Congratulations to the winners and to everyone who participated in the ongoing effort to raise awareness about the importance of staying focused behind the wheel.”

The videos will be used to raise teens’ safety awareness through peer-to-peer conversation. The Weston High School video will be featured in advertising by the DOT Governor’s Highway Safety Office. DOT is a leader in the state in preventative measures to stop distracted driving and has received federal grants to study the behavior among motorists.

This was an especially good week for Nathan Katz and Michael Bogaev. The pair were also winners in C-SPAN’s national 2017 StudentCam competition. 

Nathan Katz won third prize and $750 for his documentary, Corporate Hypocrisy: Mergers and Acquisitions.

Michael Bogaev won honorable mention and $250 for his documentary, The Syrian Refugee Crisis.

Click HERE for that story.

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