ES-M students' texting and driving video could net up to $15K

Matt Pede and Chris Steinberger are in the running for a $15,000 or $10,000 prize from NYCM Insurance.

Matt Pede and Chris Steinberger are in the running for a $15,000 or $10,000 prize from NYCM Insurance.

— Erratic driving isn’t just for the drunk.

That’s the message two East-Syracuse Minoa High School students are trying to send with their video showcasing the similarities between drunk and distracted driving. Now, they’re in the running for a $10,000 or $15,000 prize for the school district, thanks to their video genius.


Texting and Driving PSA

Chris Steinberger and Matt Pede created the video as part of an independent study. It features Pede as the driver (though he’s not even old enough to drive, yet) who is pulled over by a Manlius Police Officer for erratic driving. When the police officer asks him to recite the alphabet, he begins with “QWERTY,” the first six letters on a typical keyboard. The video shows Pede arguing with a friend over how many texts he had sent, similar to the stereotypical slurred conversation about how many drinks a driver may have had.

“Shhh... I drive better when I’m texting,” Pede says in the thirty-second clip. The video ends with Pede being charged with texting while driving.

Coming up with the concept was easy, Pede said. He and Steinberger worked with their teacher, Michael Ferris, to study the dangers of distracted driving vs. drunk driving. They decided to use the same lingo, but use the cell phone as the driver’s impairment.

“It hopefully will send that message through comedy,” said Steinberger, a senior. “The message will be sent because people are going to watch it because it’s funny and the message will stick with them.”

The video was made as part of the NYCM Insurance’s distracted driving campaign. The insurance company awarded a $15,000, $10,000 and $5,000 prize to three high schools in New York state. Canandaigua Academy, in the Finger Lakes region, was awarded the $5,000 prize. ES-M will find out Friday, March 9 which prize they received. They’re pitted against Millbrook High School, near Poughkeepsie, whose video sends a simple, poignant message about the statistics behind distracted driving.

If ES-M’s video wins NYCM’s top prize, the district plans to use the money to make upgrades to the school’s television studio. The teens are also entered into a contest to see who gets the most votes on Youtube. That prize would come with a $500 cash prize for Steinberger and Pede.

Their video was one of 159 from 68 schools across New York entered into NYCM’s contest.

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