Update: Bridgestone America tells 10 News USF student Mark Araya did not have enough votes to win its Teens Drive Smart video contest. But the company was so impressed with his entry he was selected as a special Critics' Choice winner. Araya will receive a $2500 cash prize, a set of Bridgestone tires and the chance to have his video used as a public service announcement on TV stations across the country.
Tampa, Florida -- Paying for college these days isn't easy. But imagine how much of a difference a $25,000 scholarship could make. You could help a student at the University of South Florida win that scholarship and spread an important message about distracted driving.
Mark Araya is an advertising major at USF, about to enter his junior year. He's been working on animation for about a year now, but decided to give video a try after hearing about Bridgestone America's Teens Drive Smart video contest.
"I thought it would be interesting to do this contest because it's not just like any other contest. It's for a good cause," said Araya.
Bridgestone asked students, between the ages of 16 and 21, to create short videos about safe driving and making better decisions behind the wheel. Araya's video was picked from more than 2300 entries as one of ten finalists in the contest.
Araya called his video "My Distractions." He used animation to bring everyday driving distractions to life.
"You get a text while you're driving and you want to kind of look at the text and text them back," said Araya. "It's really not worth it. And if you're hungry, you're thinking about food. Or you're messing wtih the radio, getting tweets on your phone. It's something you get distracted all the time with."
Araya decided what his video needed was a little bit of humor. He created cartoon charactes to help with that.
"When you see commercials on TV about texting and driving, they usually scare you. They use a lot of scare tactics. Sometimes you want to shut it off or turn away and you don't want to see something sad," said Araya. "I guess it's ironic using the cartoon characters that are so innocent to show something so deadly."
The student who creates the winning video will receive a $25,000 scholarship from Bridgestone America and will have their video shown on the MTV jumbotron in New York's Times Square. Second and third place finishers will receive $15,000 and $10,000.
You can vote in the contest at this link. Voting ends just before midnight on July 23rd.