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As teenagers begin to learn how to drive, some may not take the rules of the road seriously.

For Bryce Fuller, the importance of driver safety is a message he hopes to share with others as part of a national video contest.

Fuller, 18, a home-schooled high school senior from the tiny Oakland County town of Leonard, produced a minute-long video that graphically portrays what can happen when motorists text, eat or engage in other distracting behavior.

His film was chosen as one of 10 finalists from among 1,500 entries in the TeenDrive365 Video Challenge, sponsored by Discovery Education and Toyota.

The winner will be chosen through online voting that runs through April 25. To watch Fuller’s video, see those of the other finalists, and vote, go to www.TeenDrive365InSchool.com/vote.

“Many people address texting as one of the main causes for accidents but, distracted driving like eating or just not paying attention behind the wheel is a major problem too,” Fuller said. “One time, I even saw someone playing cards while driving.”

In his video clip, “Roland on the Road,” Fuller depicts a faceless dummy who runs into trouble behind the wheel.

Roland, a newly licensed driver, strikes a pedestrian while texting. He falls asleep behind the wheel, runs off the road, and is ejected from his car because his seat belt was unbuckled. He hits a telephone pole while talking on his cellphone.

“As I was brainstorming for the film, the phrase, ‘don’t be a dummy hit me,’ so I thought it would be cool to use that as the lead character,” said Fuller, an aspiring filmmaker.

After each of Roland’s crashes, Fuller appears on camera to offer a lesson. After Roland strikes the pedestrian, Fuller, wearing a white lab coat, checks off “texting” on a sheet attached to a clipboard and gives this advice for what to do with your phone while driving: “Let it be or hit a tree.”

The first-place finisher will receive $15,000 and will work with a Discovery film crew to reshoot the video into a TV-ready PSA to air across Discovery networks.

The runner-up will win $10,000 and a behind-the-scenes trip to a Velocity Network show taping. The third-place winner gets $7,500; fourth through 10th places receive $2,500 each.

In addition, four regional prize-winners will each receive $1,000.

The Video Challenge is one component of Toyota and Discovery Education’s TeenDrive365: In School initiative, which offers tools designed for high school educators and teens. Resources to help teens prepare for the responsibility of driving include quizzes, parental discussion points, and a financial calculator.

Kirstin Hirst, vice president of corporate education partnership of Discovery Education, said it was hard to narrow down the finalists from such a large number of entries.

“There so many talented young people out there. Some videos were funny, others were serious. We received videos that had really good content,” Hirst said. “Some teens in the past said while putting the film together, they were able to not only inspire change in the way their peers drive, but their parents too.”

Each day, nine people are killed in distracted-driving crashes, while more than 31 percent of U.S. drivers ages 18-64 admit to reading a text or email while driving, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

After submitting his video, Fuller thought it was ironic that he and his mom were hit by a young distracted driver while going to the copy shop to make promotional flyers.

“No one was hurt, but when we told her about the contest that I was entering, she got a kick out of it and was very apologetic,” he said. “In the end, I hope my film catches people’s attention and that I’m able to make an impact in a major way by influencing people to be safer drivers.”

ksmith3@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-1855

@kylasmith525

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