New York State’s new “Stay Awake! Stay Alive!” effort to combat drowsy driving kicked-off March 13 with a creative boost from Suffolk County Community College students who produced two of the three public service announcements for the campaign.
A “Stay Awake! Stay Alive!” message is being promoted on message signs on the New York State Thruway, other state roads, and on social media before and after the recent Daylight Saving Time change. In addition, there is targeted outreach to college students who are among the most at risk of driving drowsy.
As part of the education effort, college students were invited to create a public service announcement (PSA) highlighting the dangers of drowsy driving. Two of the three winning PSAs being aired on social media and at Department of Motor Vehicle offices throughout the state were created by Suffolk County Community College students who took home prizes for first and third place. The first-place winner received a $2,000 cash prize, the second-place received a $1,500 and third-place $500.
Suffolk liberal arts major Jenna Capozzi, 21, from Lake Grove teamed up with friends she graduated with from Centereach High School, Vincent Meyers and Matt Kopsachilis to produce the winning 25-second PSA.
Radio and Television Production major Samantha Fowler, 19, from Medford captured third place.
“I was inspired by a story one of the organizers told us about losing a sister due to drowsy driving,” Fowler said. “I have a sister as well, and really wanted to focus on that emotional aspect of it.”
“I personally thought it was a good idea to produce the video,” Capozzi said, “even if we did not win the contest, the message was an important one to spread.”
“Drowsy driving is something we can all relate to. That struck me as something that I wanted to be a part of,” said Meyers.
“The chance to create something that’s really special and very, very unique was a great opportunity,” cameraman and editor Kopsachilis said.
The team collaborated on writing and pulling together on creation of the video, with Meyers doing the acting and Kopsachilis handling the camera and editing the piece that ultimately won the competition.
“Hopefully this message reaches a wide audience and it helps open up people’s eyes to what we don’t want to admit that they drive drowsy. At the end of the day I don’t think any of us really thought we were going to win. But it was very nostalgic, in the sense that we kind of came back to our old roots, where we like first met each other through theater,” said Capozzi.
Capozzi said she expects to graduate in May, and pursue a degree in aerospace engineering. Fowler said she will graduate in December.
“I definitely want to get some experience underneath my belt,” Fowler said, “I might take a gap year just to see what jobs are available for me in my field.”
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), 24 hours without sleep has similar effects on driving ability as a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.10 percent. GHSA also estimates that drowsy driving is a contributing factor in 328,000 crashes nationwide, annually, and more than half of them involve drivers age 25 and younger.