Student videos warn of distracted driving

By KATIE HURST/ Lifestyles Editor

MONTEVALLO — Early one morning when Dylan Lard was 18, he hopped in the car with a friend to make the familiar drive from Auburn to Tuscaloosa.

While driving Interstate 459, Lard started to get drowsy behind the wheel. As his eyes closed, Lard lost control of the car — and also his life, he said.

Lard woke up in the hospital a day and a half later after the car wreck that broke his neck and permanently paralyzed his left hand.

Today, Lard is a senior broadcast student at the University of Montevallo. Lard, along with 15 other students in the university’s National Broadcasting Society, recently completed a multimedia campaign to spread awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.

In a collaborative partnership initiative with Shelby County and Shelby County Schools, the students created the video project, “Distracted Driving: A Deadly Mixture,” said Chandra Clark, assistant professor of mass communications at the university.

As a community service project, the students filmed, edited and produced a series of video segments covering the topics of distracted driving, texting and driving, impaired driving and drowsy driving, Clark said.

The videos are designed to be a teaching tool for teachers and parents of middle and high school students, she said. The longest video is just seven minutes, allowing teachers to show them to students and then use them to start discussions in the classroom.

Each video features interviews of local students, parents and experts who have experience with distracted driving along with the latest facts and research, Clark said.

Lard did all the graphics for the project and told his own story on the segment about drowsy driving.

“I hope it will teach a lesson,” he said. “I had a plan before that wreck happened. Everything 100 percent changed after that wreck, and not necessarily for the better. I wanted to give back to other people and let other young people learn from what happened to me.”

The videos were put onto DVDs and shared with Shelby County high school principals to conduct safe driving campaigns during prom season and in driver’s education classes, according to a Shelby County Schools press release.

The videos are also available online at Shelbyal.com.