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Fort Lupton teen wins contest promoting safe driving

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Kenia Melero Castillo’s winning poster shows dangers of texting while driving

By Ben Wiebesiek

FORT LUPTON — The scene is all too familiar: A driver — distracted by a smart phone and with a child in the back — fails to notice a red light and sideswipes a car in the intersection.

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The accident, in this case, is not a real collision, but an artistic depiction by Kenia Melero Castillo, a student at Fort Lupton High School, who drew the scene as part of a Weld County poster contest.

 

Castillo’s artwork was selected as the winner of the DRIVE SMART fall 2013 poster contest, which seeks to raise public awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.

“I think it’s really important to show what people are doing and that their driving is dangerous,” Castillo said. “I’m in disbelief; I didn’t think I’d win. I just barely started drawing last year.”

Her winning poster will be printed and distributed throughout Weld County. She will also receive a $200 check. But the subject of safe driving has a personal connection to Castillo as well.

“When I was in seventh grade, two guys from this school were in a really bad accident, and I remember in class when the teacher announced that their whole family died except both of them. And I thought that was really, really sad,” Castillo said. 

Last year, 30 fatal motor vehicle accidents occurred in Weld County resulting in 35 fatalities, according to data from the Colorado Department of Transportation.

DRIVE SMART Weld County is a nonprofit community coalition made up of members of law enforcement, business, insurance, media, concerned citizens, schools, fire departments, and health professionals working to reduce injuries and death from traffic crashes, according to the organizations website, www.drivesmartweldcounty.com.

The programs encourages drivers and passengers to “make wise choices through programs such as the Teen Driver Safety program, Parent of Teen Driver classes, car seat checkpoints, and teen safety challenges. During the 2012/2013 school year over 2,200 students were served.  We have crash vehicles on trailers as educational displays about traffic safety.”

The Teen Driver Safety Program was on hand April 2, to award Castillo, but also to conduct games, activities and discussions about how teen drivers can protect themselves and others on the road.

The day culminated in a quiz bowl trivia contest between teams of students trying to answer questions about driving ranging from insurance deductibles to drivers license points.

Castillo learned about the program through her art class, where another student, Alyssa Gonzales, also received recognition as runner-up in the poster class.

“Our teacher, Mrs. Kopfman, she helped a lot and she told us about the contest, and I was interested in entering,” Gonzales said. “I had to take time out of class, and sometimes go at lunch to work on it, and also at home.”

Both girls agree that more need to hear messages about the various dangers on the road.

“Don’t get in a car with a driver who has been drinking, that’s important,” Gonzales said. “It’s about being safe.”