Alameda Teen Wins ‘Drive Safe’ Contest


A sophomore at Alameda High School has won a statewide contest for teens to help promote the dangers of drinking and driving. Serena McIntosh, 15, will receive a $2,000 prize from the contest sponsor, the National Road Safety Foundation. She will also receive the opportunity to work with an Emmy Award-winning director to make her concept into a finished 30-second public service announcement (PSA) that will be broadcast nationwide on more than 150 TV stations after it debuts at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

McIntosh’s PSA concept won out of nearly 100 entries from California teens. A classmate at Alameda High School, Corry Forrer Jr., 17, was runner-up and will receive $1,000.

The winning concept, titled “Don’t let it be you,” shows a young woman leaving a party, obviously drunk as she fumbles for the car keys in her purse. Seen from her point of view, the blurry road ahead shows hazard lights blinking on a truck just before she crashes into it. After the crash, the scene goes in reverse, back to where she first put her keys into the ignition. She then takes her phone from her purse and calls a friend, saying “Hey, can you pick me up?” The screen fades to black as the following words come on the screen: “Every 50 minutes, someone dies in a crash involving an alcohol-impaired driver. Don’t let it be you.”

McIntosh said she had thought about showing a crash, but then decided to show the two very different paths a driver could take, with drastically different results.

“The importance of never mixing alcohol and driving cannot be repeated enough,” said David Reich of the National Road Safety Foundation, a non-profit group that promotes safe driving. “Serena’s creative concept does a great job of getting that message across.” 

“According to studies, teen alcohol use kills approximately 4,300 young people each year,” said Lisa Kaz, president and CEO of the LA Auto Show and AutoMobility LA. “Drinking and driving continues to be a serious problem and is taking a staggering toll on roads and highways throughout California. We thank all the young people who participated in the Drive Safe Los Angeles contest and we look forward to seeing Serena’s completed public service announcement.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 10,497 people died in 2016 in crashes involving drunk drivers — 28 percent of all traffic fatalities. The estimated economic cost of alcohol-impaired driving crashes is $44 billion, making it not only one of the deadliest traffic issues, but also one of the costliest.