Stowe High School TOT

Turn Off Texting at Stowe High School

We’re sending special thanks out to the Stowe Reporter for sharing word of the Turn Off Texting program! The Youth Safety Council visited Driver Educator Darren McIntyre and his students at Stowe High School on May 6.

Award Winners with the Governor

Young Videographers Awarded at Vermont State House

The Vermont Highway Safety Alliance sponsored the second annual contest #802phonesdown!headup! video contest for high school students. Students from across Vermont were honored for their work producing video public service messages on distracted driving to engage their peers and compel young drivers to put down their phones while driving. Two thousand dollars in prizes were awarded to four teams of students. The VHSA aims to promote the wining videos on social media and other media outlets throughout the year.

The contest was supported with generous donations from: AAA Northern New England, Co-Operative Insurance Companies, Consultant on Police Services, Midstate Dodge, Youth Safety Council of Vermont, and Yankee Driving School.

Gov. Phil Scott joined the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance to present awards Friday May 10th 2019 at the Statehouse in the Cedar Creek Room. Well over sixty people were in attendance Including families of the participants, law enforcement, and stakeholders from the VHSA. Honorable Mentions were given to Ian Goldberg from Woodstock High School, Michelle Townsend from Windsor High School and Gregory Torbert from Northwest Technical Center. Cash awards were given to four top entries:

First Place Award
Lawton Jones
Green Mountain Valley School

Second Place Award
Cole Klimoski & Liam Swan
Essex High School

Third Place Award
Emily Gammell &
Emma Neuman
Hanover High School

People’s Choice Award $500
Kaylee Green
Northwest Technical Center


Teen Filmmaker Focuses on Distracted Driving

 Here’s a guest commentary by Owen Smith, who is the president of AT&T Vermont.

When Burlington High School student Maia Vota traveled to the Tribeca Film Festival last week, she brought an important message to New York City’s red carpet: It Can Wait.

Maia’s documentary-style short film about the dangers of distracted driving earned her a 2019 AT&T Youth Filmmaker Award, and as part of her prize she attended Tribeca where she got behind-the-scenes access to Tribeca filmmakers while working with AT&T and nonprofit Fresh Films to develop her filmmaking skills. But more important than the glitz and glamour is the message that Maia and her film are helping to spread.

Called “A Realistic Look at Distracted Driving,” the film is a four and a half minute look at students’ attitudes and habits related to using devices behind the wheel. The film is powerful because it is realistic and universal – she could have filmed at any high school from Montpelier to Montana and odds are, she would have heard similar anecdotes. Many students admit that they are frequently tempted to use their phones while driving.

Maia depicts a microcosm of the widespread and ever-evolving problem of distracted driving.

In 2009, when AT&T began its longstanding It Can Wait program, the focus was on raising awareness of texting and driving. Over the past 10 years, the It Can Wait program has worked with local community and public safety leaders to host school assemblies and public events, utilizing resources such as virtual reality and inspiring more 36 million pledges – and counting – to not drive distracted. But also, over the past 10 years, the It Can Wait program has expanded from a focus on just texting and driving to include our constantly changing world of technology.

This year, AT&T conducted new research to show how the issue has progressed. The research showed that seven in 10 drivers say their smartphones have become essential for getting around. And use of immersive content, such as video chatting and watching videos, while behind the wheel has nearly doubled since 2015.

One of the students in Maia’s film talks about device distractions other than texting, like posting on social media and searching for music. The anecdote emphasizes how the distracted driving problem continues to evolve. In fact, the recent research showed 86% of car-share drivers use their smartphones while driving; and four in 10 e-scooter or e-bike riders admit to riding distracted. It doesn’t matter how we get around; we’re doing it distracted.

April was National Distracted Driving Awareness month and there is no better time to pledge to never drive distracted. Vermont’s public safety community has been a valuable and outspoken leader in this fight. Earlier in April, AT&T was proud to stand in Shelburne with the Vermont State Police, sheriff’s departments and several local law enforcement agencies to drive home this message.

We encourage you to remind friends and loved ones to put their phones down while they’re behind the wheel. Visit to take the pledge to never drive distracted. Or head over to YouTube and check out and share Maia’s award-winning film.

A Burlington High School student used her voice as a filmmaker to spread an important message, and we should all follow her lead. That message is simple: no text, photo, email or social media post is worth a life.

And as Maia concludes in her film, “we should be doing better than this.”

Ken Millman presented with award.

YSCVT Board Member Ken Millman Receives VHSA Marketing Award

Youth Safety Council Board Member Ken Millman of Sp!ke Advertising was presented with the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance Media & Marketing Award by VHSA Vice Chair Mitchell Jay of the Vermont Vehicle and Automotive Distributors Association. The ceremony last Friday, May 10, was held in the Cedar Creek Room of the Vermont State House in Montpelier. Congratulations, Ken! And thank you for the photos, Nicholas Cartularo, Digital Outreach Coordinator at the Vermont Agency of Transportation!

Ken Millman and James Lockridge

Ken Millman and YSCVT Executive Director James Lockridge.

Handshake at Heritage

Heritage Toyota Supports Turn Off Texting Program for High School Drivers

Heritage Toyota is supporting a statewide young driver highway safety program with the use and maintenance of a Toyota truck. The Youth Safety Council of Vermont presents the Turn Off Texting workshop in high schools across the state, giving young driving students a safe first-hand experience of the dangers of driving while distracted. The program uses a trailer; this sponsorship of a 2018 Toyota Tundra Certified Used Vehicle pickup truck will make it possible for the 2019 program season.

The Turn Off Texting demonstration raises awareness about the dangers of distracted driving by putting students behind the wheel of a golf cart to navigate a course of cones while texting. It’s an effective experience for participants, and the demonstration is provided free of charge in Vermont through a grant from the Vermont Office of Highway Safety, Behavioral Safety Unit and support from generous sponsors like Heritage Toyota, and AT&T. Turn Off Texting was created by the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles in 2009 and has been presented by the Youth Safety Council of Vermont since 2011.

Heritage Toyota, based in South Burlington, is committed to supporting highway safety initiatives. The ‘H-Team’  produced several video public service announcements during a campus-wide safety fair at Mt. Abraham Union High School in 2017. The Youth Safety Council of Vermont worked with Mt. Abe to create a how-to resource for other schools that includes the Heritage-produced videos,

“The sponsorship highlights how positive-minded Vermonters are when facing the challenge of fostering safe attitudes among young drivers. Heritage Toyota’s collaborative spirit and willingness to invest in the wellbeing of young Vermonters is evident in their support of this program,” says James Lockridge, Executive Director of the Youth Safety Council of Vermont. “From Franklin County to Bennington County, Heritage Toyota will help us foster a culture of safety with each of Vermont’s newest generation of drivers.”

Ryan Denecker, General Manger of Heritage Toyota, says, “The work that the Youth Safety Council of Vermont does is invaluable. Creating awareness for the young people of Vermont can either happen with a real life tragedy, or through proactive efforts with an organization such as YSCVT. Heritage is grateful for the opportunity to assist in this mission, and support such an important campaign. I am proud to partner with Jim and his team to successfully create awareness for the YSCVT mission. Keeping our kids, and others safe on the road is our joint goal, and one that is important to everyone here at Heritage Toyota.”

The new YSCVT Tundra

About the Youth Safety Council of Vermont: The YSCVT is a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing teen car crashes and making positive changes in young driver safety culture. Contact James Lockridge,, (802) 881-9050,

About Heritage Toyota: Heritage Toyota, home of the H-Team, has been serving the Vermont community for 25 years, and now employs over 100 people at their Shelburne Road location. Working with many community partners and non-profits to highlight the great things happening in our own neighborhoods, Heritage Toyota is proud to support community causes such as road safety, animal welfare, human rights, child development, and the fight against hunger and poverty. Known for sales and full service of the Toyota brand, they are committed to creating the best quality and most transparent customer experiences for each customer, every time. For more information, contact Bethany Sargent, Marketing Manager at or (802) 865-8128, or visit

Image at top: James Lockridge, YSCVT Executive Director, is handed keys to the 2018 Toyota Tundra by Michael Thomson, Sales and Leasing Consultant. Photo by Tyler Bradley, Videographer, Heritage Automotive Group.

2019 Turn Off Texting Trailer Graphics Update!

The Turn Off Texting golf cart trailer got a graphic update at Yipes! Stripes in Williston, naming 2019-2020 sponsors! The Turn Off Texting Program is made possible with support from program sponsors The Vermont Office of Highway Safety, Behavioral Safety Unit; Vermont Association of Domestic Property & Casualty Insurance Companies; AT&T; Heritage Toyota; Vermont Independent Insurance Agents Association; Co-operative Insurance Companies, and with philanthropic contributions from The Oakland Foundation, International Paper, and The Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation.

TOT Trailer at Yipes! Stripes

TOT Trailer at Yipes! Stripes

Thank you Madison Noyes and Yipes! Stripes for the photos and video!

Peoples Choice PSA Winner

#802phonesdown!headsup! PSA Video Contest People’s Choice Award Winner: Kaylee Green!

The Youth Safety Council is happy to share word of the winner of the #802phonesdown!headsup! PSA video contest People’s Choice Award: Kaylee Green, a student at Northwest Technical Center in St. Albans! The contest welcomed video public service announcement entries from high school students across Vermont, with messages that would help improve high school driving habits. Kaylee’s entry received a massive 488 votes in the People’s Choice Award category. Kaylee will take home a prize of $500 at the May 10 award ceremony at the Vermont State House; the public is invited! Info and RSVP at Eventbrite.

Kaylee’s winning video PSA:


802!PhonesDown Voting!

Vote for the #802phonesdown!headsup! People’s Choice Award Winner: High School Student Videos Promote Highway Safety

Voting is now open for the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance #802phonesdown!headsup! People’s Choice Award Winner! Help recognize a high school filmmaker for their contribution to Vermont’s highway safety with their video PSA (public service announcement) about the dangers of distracted driving.

The award is part of the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance second annual Public Safety Announcement (PSA) award contest for Vermont high school students, designed to change driving habits. Sponsors include AAA Northern New England, Co-Operative Insurance Companies, (sponsor for first place award) Consultant on Police Services, Midstate Dodge, and Yankee Driving School, (sponsor for third place award. The Youth Safety Council of Vermont is proudly sponsoring the People’s Choice Award!

The contest winners will be awarded at the Vermont State House on Friday May 10, and the People’s Choice Winner will take home $500! Vote here!

Vote here!

Turn Off Texting Survey Data, 2017-2018

Turn Off Texting (TOT) is a presentation that helps young drivers understand the dangers of distracted driving through a personal, first-hand, real-world experience. It’s an educational countermeasure that helps improve the safety culture of each new generation of Vermont drivers. Funding for the program depends on demonstrating that it helps improve perceptions and attitudes about highway safety. The Council uses surveys to gather this data, described below. 

During the 2017-2018 Turn Off Texting (TOT) season, the presentation was scheduled at 62 sites in 11 counties across Vermont with a total of 1,347 students participating.

At each TOT presentation, students drove a golf cart through a course of traffic cones, then drove through the course a second time while texting phrases provided by the presenter. Most students completed a survey before and after they participated. The survey was created with support from the UVM Transportation Research Center and helped the Council understand whether students experienced a change in attitude about safety resulting from their TOT experience.

Based on a sample of 196 surveys, students on the first run of the course had an average of 1.65 errors (STD 1.43). An error was counted when they hit a traffic cone, swerved out of their lane, ran a stop sign, or committed similar virtual errors in the driving simulator that substituted for the golf cart during winter months. On the second run when students had to text while driving, the average number of errors increased to 6.22 (STD 3.54). The range of errors for the second run was four times larger than it had been for the first, giving the the students a first-hand impression of the dangers of driving while distracted.

When the Council examined a sample of 215 unpaired pre- and post-presentation surveys, 97.67% ranked texting or emailing while driving as unacceptable or somewhat unacceptable to begin with. Even with this initial high measurement of agreement among students that texting or emailing while driving is not acceptable, a sampling of data from 207 paired pre- and post-presentation surveys revealed that there was an 8.21% positive change in student perception that resulted from their TOT experience. Additionally, there was a positive change of 20.77% in response to the question of whether students would text or e-mail while driving in the future. In fact, out of the 54 (26.09%) students whose answers changed between the pre- and post-presentation surveys, 79.63% marked that they were less likely to text and drive in the future.

A majority of students (84.5%) answered that they found the Turn Off Texting program useful.

Vermont Student Among Winners of AT&T Emerging Filmmaker Awards

Congratulations to Maia Vota from Burlington, the Youth Finalist in the 5th Edition of the AT&T Emerging Filmmaker Awards! Carolyn Billings, Assistant Vice President Creator & Developer Marketing at AT&T Mobility and Entertainment, says, “Through the AT&T Film Awards, we seek to honor aspiring creators with imaginative, undiscovered short films. Amplifying the voices of these rising creators and supporting them with resources is a true privilege. I’m blown away at how they bring together creativity, experience and technology to tell great stories.” Here’s Maia’s entry, “A Realistic Look at Distracted Driving.” Find other winners at