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Colonie teens speak out against distracted driving

Contest winner’s PSA displayed on Central Avenue billboard

Colonie Central High School students from a graphic and digital photography stand in front of the billboard featuring the winning PSA designed by  10th-grader Haylie Szemplinski.

Colonie Central High School students from a graphic and digital photography stand in front of the billboard featuring the winning PSA designed by 10th-grader Haylie Szemplinski.

More than 45 Colonie Central High School students from a graphic and digital photography class submitted ideas to Lamar Advertising for a PSA to urge people to stop texting and driving. The unveiling of the billboard took place near the intersection of Central Avenue and Route 155 on the morning of Wednesday, May 28.

It was at the same time that 10th-grader Haylie Szemplinski found out her design won the contest.

“I’m pretty surprised I won,” said Szemplinski, who said the competition was stiff with so many other great entries.

The students in the class took photos and created slogans to remind people that the driver's seat is no place to be texting.

According to the National Safety Council, there is an accident caused by distracted driving every 30 seconds. So far this year, there have been nearly 421,000 accidents nationwide caused by drivers using cell phones.

“I hope that people will understand that it’s really not too good to text on the road, and that it can happen to anybody. I hope that people won’t text and drive,” said Szemplinski.

Szemplinski got involved in photography at the begging of this school year when she started taking the graphic and digital photography class.

This is the fourth year that Lamar Advertising has worked with the school to make PSAs and provide them with billboard space to generate awareness on safe driving. The billboard comes at no cost to the school, and the staff plays a big role in project.

“We help teach the class, we do the voting, my staff votes, we print this and post this as part of a community service project,” said Vice President and General Manager of Lamar Advertising Matt Duddy.

According to Duddy, the school reached out to the advertising company three years ago to help teach students in the class how to design a billboard.

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