Students get an online crash course in safe driving
PEMBROKE - Connor Boucher has made a habit of creating and editing videos in his spare time. When the Pembroke Academy junior heard he could potentially parlay his talents into a complimentary limo ride for him and his friends to this year's prom or complimentary tickets to the big dance, he said it was a no-brainer to enter a short-film contest sponsored by Associate Grocers of New England (AG) and the Pembroke and Allenstown police departments.
The challenge asks students to piece together a 60- to 90-second movie aimed at addressing the dangers of distracted or impaired driving.
"We opened this up to all prom-eligible students, specifically juniors and seniors, said Pembroke Academy Assistant Principal Paul Famulari.
"As we approach a very important season, with both prom, graduation and other important events for students, we wanted to remind them that it's not just drinking and driving they should be avoiding, but also texting, taking pictures, making phone calls or anything else that may distract them from road.
"Essentially, we're trying to educate these students to the potentially devastating consequences of distracted driving."
According to a release from AG Supermarkets Inc. - which has a warehouse in Pembroke and recently opened Sully's at the former site of Bi-Wise Market in Allenstown - statistics from the National Highway Transportation Safety Agency indicate texting while driving takes a driver's eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, or the equivalent of driving the entire length of a football field blindfolded at 55 mph.
"The whole point is that a texting and driving could cause an accident, not just on prom night, but anytime," said Boucher. "I realized this was a good opportunity to spread some really good information to others and to raise awareness to this issue."
Boucher, a junior, and three of his classmates - Jake Gaskell, Liam Wright and Rob Wilson - teamed up to create a storyline in which Wilson, driving a car while text messaging, strikes and kills Wright, who had chased a basketball into the street just prior to being hit by his distracted friend. The video, said Boucher, flashes to several other vehicles in similar situations and ends with Wilson being placed in the back of a patrol car to illustrate the point that such an accident could happen to anyone.
Boucher said his mother has been steadfast in reminding him of the dangers of distracted driving and other potential roadway hazards.
"I've been pretty strict on being buckled and making sure everyone who gets in my car is safe," he said. "Texts can wait, and I don't need to be on the phone while I'm driving. Once I get to my destination, I can text who I need to text."
The 10 highest-rated films entered into the contest move on to final judging by the contest's advisory board, composed of academy administrators, Pembroke and Allenstown police, and other community members. The winners will be notified on April 18.
The grand prize is a limo ride for up to four couples to and from this year's prom.
Additional prizes, which are furnished by Sully, include four tickets to the prom and gift cards to a local florist.
Voting begins on Thursday at noon and closes on Monday, April 14, at 8 a.m.
Those interested in viewing and voting on the videos can go to http://www.youtube.com/user/AGNewEngland, and then "Like" the best video by clicking the thumbs up button underneath it.