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Thursday, March 22 Local

Darien SADD's video in running for state contest

"Be home soo" was all Mollie was able to text before she crashed her car, ending her life and changing everything for the two friends in the car with her.

Moments before, one of Mollie's friends was drinking coffee and looking out the window while the other one danced in the back seat.

The fictional scene is from the Darien chapter of Students Against Distracted Decisions' public service announcement video, which is a finalist in the state Department of Motor Vehicles' "Put Your Brakes on Distractions!" contest.

Darien High School students Izzy Patten, Hannah Solus, Mollie Reigel and Alana McKay teamed to create their 25-second film that emphasizes the need to drive without distractions.

In previous SADD contests, the Darien chapter took home the third-place prize in 2010 and the fifth-place prize in 2012.

"Hundreds of people enter this," said Janice Marzano, the Darien Depot program director. "To get the top 10 is a big deal."

In October, Connecticut law changed the definition of distracted driving, which means that even if the car is at a complete stop, the driver still can be pulled over for being distracted. Texting is not the only form of distraction. Eating while driving or changing the radio station in the car can also distract the driver.

The challenge for the Darien SADD chapter was to demonstrate how important it is to drive undistracted since it's no secret that it can lead to fatalities.

According to distraction.gov, 11 percent of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted at the time of the crash. Additionally, 21 percent of drivers under the age of 19 that were involved in fatal accidents were using their cellphones at the time of the crash.

The Darien SADD chapter is competing against Daniel Hand, East Lyme, Hall and Simsbury high schools and Waterbury Arts Magnet School and the Arts at Capital Theater.

On Monday, April 7, the students involved in the creation of the video, along with Marzano, Darien Police Officer and SADD adviser Beth DiIorio, and the students' parents will attend the 2014 Teen Drivers Awards in Windsor, where the winners of the video contest will be announced.

The first-prize winners will take home $5,000; with $4,000 for second place, $3,000 for third, $2,000 for fourth, and $1,000 for fifth.

mspicer@bcnnew.com; 203-330-6583; @Meg_DarienNews