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BENNINGTON — Local high school students will have a chance to win money from a prize pool of $3,000 as the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance’s third annual #802phonesdown!headsup! video public service announcement contest.

Statewide, there will be five winners, with the top video winning $750.

“Every distracted-driving death is preventable. A few seconds can change a life forever. Unfortunately, people text and drive on Vermont roads every day, despite a law that forbids it. The goal for contest entrants is to research this important issue and produce a compelling 25-second video that can enact change and spread the message that distracted driving is unacceptable. The VHSA hopes that videos produced by high-school students will offer a relatable perspective for other young drivers,” said the VHSA in a press release.

All Vermont high-school students, including home-schooled students, in grades 9-12 are eligible to enter. Students at cross-border high schools are also eligible. Videos will be judged by committee for top awards and by the public for a special “People’s Choice Award.”

Students are tasked with making a 25-second video on the dangers of texting while driving to help prevent serious car crashes and deaths due to distracted driving. They can film themselves, create a cartoon or animation, use photos or compose a graphic. Students are asked not to film themselves driving or breaking the Vermont traffic law as the entry will be disqualified.

“Distracted driving is the single biggest thing that we teach,” said Mount Anthony driver’s education teacher Dan Sleeman. “There’s a lot of risk out there. And a lot of this is reaching for your phone, or it dropping on the floor — being distracted by the device. The stats are not good. You have to make a difference early on with the kids.”

The video is due by March 15 and is in conjunction with National Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April, when the five winners will be announced. The winning videos will be distributed on social media by the VHSA and its safety partners.

More information and the official rules of the contest can be found at the VHSA website.

The contest is sponsored by the VHSA, AAA New England, Yankee Driving School, the Youth Safety Council of Vermont, Co-operative Insurance Companies, Midstate Dodge, and AT&T.

Adam Samrov can be reached at or on Twitter @banner_sports

Adam Samrov is the sports editor and part-time news reporter for the Bennington Banner. He has been at the Banner since 2008 and sports editor since 2010. He can be reached at


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