A senior at Fresno's Edison High School was selected as a finalist in a national video campaign against distracted driving.
Taylor Nitta's video entry, "Dear Charlie," beat out more than 1,000 entries to make the top 10 of the National Toyota Teen Driver Video Challenge. The challenge asked teenagers to submit a short video addressing distracted driving.
The grand prize for the challenge is $15,000 and the opportunity to work with a Discovery Channel film crew to re-create the winning entry as a TV public service announcement. Second prize is $10,000 and a behind-the-scenes trip for two to a Velocity Network show. Third prize is $7,500.
Winners will be determined by popular vote on the challenge's website. Voting is underway and will end April 30.
The competition, which is also sponsored by Discover Education, seeks to use social media and the Internet to generate awareness of the dangers of phone use while driving, driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs and not following safe driving practices.
Nitta first heard of the competition from a friend who knew last year's second-place finishers from Clovis North High School. She worked on "Dear Charlie" as part of Steven Johnson's multimedia class at Edison, but the project was all her own. She has experience making short films and videos on YouTube and hopes to major in digital media in college.
Valerie Nitta, Taylor's mother, said she was awestruck when the finalists were announced. "If she won or even got second or third, we would be completely floored."
The 10 finalists' videos can be viewed and voted on at http://www.toyotateendriver.com/vote
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