Clackamas County 'Drive to Zero' art contest winners announced
Five local high school students were honored for their artwork last week when Clackamas County recognized participants of its annual 'Drive to Zero' art contest.
County commissioners got to know the five talented artists who were selected out of 21 entries from across the region. Each of their artworks integrated aspects of the county's "Drive to Zero" traffic safety campaign that aims to reduce serious and fatal crashes in the county to zero by 2035. A major aspect of that campaign is to cut down on distracted driving, a theme many of the artists incorporated in their work along with speeding and falling asleep behind the wheel.
This year, Molalla High School student Kenzie Prock took home the top prize along with $300 for her comic strip depicting a crash caused by distracted driving.
Second place and $200 was awarded to Carly Shanklin of Wilsonville for her poster depicting a road scene featuring Mt. Hood labeled "Speeding takes a toll… slow your roll!"
Third place and $100 was given to Tirzah Vest of Lake Oswego High School for her scene depicting a sleepy driver.
Honorable mention was also given to two students: Gillian Moore of Sandy High School and Kyra Schulz of Rex Putnam High School.
"I wanted to create a piece of art to just show the dangers of speeding," Shanklin said. "As a teenager driving with other teenagers, a lot of people just blow off the speed signs or take them as a suggestion, so it hits home watching others put their lives and others at risk while driving fast. It's an issue I've seen firsthand, so I wanted to create awareness around that."
Clackamas County Transportation Safety Manager Joseph Marek and Transportation Safety Outreach Coordinator Rob Sadowsky presented the winners to the Board of County Commissioners on Thursday, April 22, and gave a brief update on the county's "Drive to Zero" efforts.
According to Sadowsky, the county will be implementing the designs of these students' art in social media posts targeted toward teens in the county using TikTok videos and other creative content to drive the message home.
"A lot of my work is focused on teenagers because the earlier we reach people, the better chance we have of a behavioral change," Sadowsky said.
Sadowksy told the board these campaigns seek to reduce distracted driving in teens in Canby, Molalla and neighboring communities. The county's transportation development department is working with a consulting agency, as well as other county departments such as public health, human services and public and government affairs, to learn more about driver behavior and what messaging can help change behavior so that the county can continue this work on its own in the future.
Part of the campaign includes a challenge to Clackamas County youth to activate their "Do Not Disturb" setting on their phones so that it automatically blocks notifications from popping up while they're driving. According to Sadowsky, this action gets two underlying barriers they've seen out of focus groups that contribute to distracted driving in teens. The first is "FOMO," or "fear of missing out." That if they don't check their phone then and there, they'll be missing out on something important.
The second is the mentality that a serious or fatal crash "just won't happen to me."
"We also learned that teens are more likely to be motivated by the experience of real people and their peers more than their parents, teachers or screen idols," Sadowsky said. "So our campaign is going to actually focus on this FOMO, this fear of missing out. We're going to name him, similar to what you may see in the Allstate commercials that focus on 'mayhem.' It's going to be similar to that in terms of we're going to call FOMO out."
According to Marek, the campaign is directed more toward those in south Clackamas County for a couple of reasons. The first being that while 80% of the county's population is in the urban areas, the majority of the region's fatal crashes take place in rural areas where roads are windy, rise and fall over steep hills and are often covered by tree canopy, which can add to impaired visibility and slickness during the many rainy days we see here in Oregon.
Marek said that over the past 15 years, 36% of those fatal and serious crashes included an inexperienced driver, and therefore the campaign seeks to put messaging in front of those young drivers in the south county area to impress upon them the seriousness of safe driving habits.
Marek also said that the program comes with a small grant from the National Safety Council for infrastructure improvement projects in the county. Those funds will be targeted to implement new edgeline and recessed reflector strips — recessed so snow plows can't scrape them off — on certain roads in the Canby and Molalla areas to help drivers see the road better.
Another project in south county includes funding from the county's community road fund to add a turn lane on the Canby-Marquam Highway near Lone Elder Road.
"We also have an 'All Roads' transportation system project that we're just starting construction on that is funded through the Oregon Department of Transportation using federal funds to look at a number of roads in this area and adding updated curve warning signs," Marek said. "With these low-cost countermeasures, you'll see a 15-20% reduction in fatal and serious injury crashes."
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