Billboard contest winners announced

Staff report

Through a partnership with State Farm, Fulton County Safe Communities and State Farm issued a challenge to Fulton County high school students to create a public service announcement billboard to educate drivers about the dangers of distracted driving.

Distracted driving is a major cause of car crashes in Fulton County, Ohio and the US. Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system — anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.

More than 1,800 Fulton County young people, reported driving distracted in the past 30 days according to the 2018 Fulton County Youth Health Assessment. You cannot drive safely unless the task of driving has your full attention.

Fulton County youth drove distracted in the following ways:

• 1,863 (40%) youth reported eating while driving

• 1,677 (36%) youth reported driving while tired or fatigued

• 1,584 (34%) youth reported talking on their phone while driving

Teens can be the best messengers with their peers, so we encourage them to speak up when they see a friend driving while distracted, to have their friends sign a pledge to never drive distracted, and to share messages on social media that remind their friends, family, and neighbors not to make the deadly choice to drive distracted.

Parents first have to lead by example — by never driving distracted — as well as have a talk with their young driver about distraction and all of the responsibilities that come with driving. Have everyone in the family sign the pledge to commit to distraction-free driving. Find the pledge at .

Swanton High School’s Kalila Shanly, Aydden Licea, Connor Williams, and Lorelei Patterson were recognized for designing the winning entries for the Safe Driving Billboard Contest. State Farm Representatives, along with Safe Communities representatives will present the winners with their cash prizes at their respective high schools.

A panel of judges from the Fulton County Safe Communities Coalition and Fulton County Health Department selected the winning entries based on creativity, originality, and how well the importance of not driving distracted was communicated. Kalila Shanly’s design received the most votes and top honors. She will receive a $100 cash prize and her design will be displayed on four billboards around Fulton County. Aydden Licea, Connor Williams and Lorelei Patterson will each receive $100 cash prize as well. The prize money and billboard displays were funded through a State Farm Safe Driving Grant awarded to the Fulton County Safe Communities Coalition. The billboards will be on display during Teen Driver Safety Awareness month in October.

“Teens have a great influence on their peers,” said Rachel Kinsman, Safe Communities Coordinator and Health Educator from the Fulton County Health Department. “Hopefully, seeing the billboards created by their peers will help raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.”

Concerned about youth driving distracted? Join us at our next FC Safe Communities meeting on Thursday, Oct. 21. Check us out on Facebook @FCsafecommunities or contact Rachel Kinsman / Karen Pennington at 419-337-0915 for more details.

Staff report