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Conard High School Student Wins 2019 Teen Safe Driving Video Contest

From left: Graphics Teacher James Genovese, Maya Barlow, Conard High School Principal Julio Duarte. Courtesy photo

A video created by Maya Barlow, a student at West Hartford’s Conard High School, was selected as the winner of the DMV Safe Driving contest for 2019.

By Ronni Newton

The video “The World is Out There,” created by Conard High School senior Maya Barlow, has been awarded first place in the annual Teen Safe Driving Video Contest sponsored by the Department of Motor Vehicles and Travelers.

There were more than 200 video entries in the contest. Barlow, along with the other winners, was honored when the announcement was made April 22 at a ceremony at the Connecticut Science Center. She was personally awarded $1,200, and Conard received a check for $6,000.

This is the 11th year the video contest has been held, and this year’s theme was “Wait, what can we do?”

The videos are intended to help raise awareness of teen driver safety through peer-to-peer conversation, and to educate teens on how to prevent crashes, injury, and death. The launch of the contest coincided with the state’s toughening of teen driver laws in 2008.

Barlow’s video will be featured in an ad by the state Department of Transportation Governor’s Highway Safety Office.

“Getting young drivers more involved in initiatives like this is important,” Gov. Ned Lamont said in a statement. “Unfortunately, they are more likely to be involved in accidents, some of which could be fatal.”

The governor, as well as Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, congratulated and thanked the more than 500 students from 36 schools across the state who participated in this year’s contest by creating videos either on their own or as part of a team.

According to Bysiewicz, in 2018 there were 33,526 learner’s permits issued to teen drivers in the state, and educating those teens about the consequences of unsafe driving is critically important.

“This year’s theme is important because it reminds teens they play a vital role in safe driving and they must understand the importance of developing responsible habits behind the wheel,” DMV Commissioner Sibongile Magubane said in a statement. She said it was “inspiring to see the amazing work of our state’s high school students who used their talents to spread such an important safety message.”

According to the DMV and Travelers, since the adoption of graduated driver licensing in 2008 that toughened teen driving laws, there has been a dramatic reduction in fatal crashes involving 16- and 17-year-old drivers. Statistics cited in the news release issued about the contest results state that according to Dr. Neil Chaudhary, a traffic safety scientist with Preusser Research Group in Trumbull, strong laws are a significant factor in the 65 percent decrease in teen car crash fatalities – from an average of 18.4 per year from 2001-2007 to an average of 6.5 per year from 2009-2018.

Michael Klein, executive vice president/president of personal insurance at Travelers noted that the “CT DMV’s Teen Safe Driving Video Contest is a powerful platform to remind drivers to make smart choices behind the wheel, and we are proud to support it one again.”

Second place winner in this year’s contest was awarded to a team from The Williams School (New London), and was directed by student Kaitlyn Burzin. Other team members were Keri Doherty, Jonathan Ensminger, Kylie Lombardi, Katerina Petrosky, Madeleine Pralea, Alexandros Tsipouras, and John Wu. Their video can be seen here: https://youtu.be/z-wyRb9yzBI

Third place went to Wilton High School, for a video created by student Clara Jane Edgecomb. Click here to watch: https://youtu.be/bmG_LNAeiho

The contest also made awards to schools for: Use of Community Members (The Morgan School, Clinton); Creativity Award (Wilton High School); Use of Different Media (Wilton High School) and Use of Teen Driving Laws (Wilton High School).   Yale New Haven Hospital’s Injury Prevention program also awarded Middletown High School for creating the video submission with the best multicultural messaging, the news release stated.

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