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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Friday morning, WHNT News 19 welcomed some very special guests to the station.

Michael McMeen, Bethaney Jackson and Tyler Behrens are the 2017 winners of the driver safety scholarship program from Morris, King & Hodge – our partners in the Distracted Driving Project.

Michael McMeen is a senior at Grissom High School, planning to study applied mathematics at Auburn University.

He used his interest in mathematics to do research for his essay, which he titled Driving Blind.

“I looked at the average reading speed and attention span and discovered with the average text, you will travel between 3 and 4 1/2 football fields without looking at the road,” McMeen said.

Bethaney Jackson, a senior at Sparkman High, took the second place prize.

She was also inspired by her future major.

Jackson plans to study biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and also sees distracted driving as a public health concern.

As she said in her essay, “a short moment of distracted driving can carry on a lifelong ripple in a family’s life.​”

Third place winner Tyler Behrens is a senior at Buckhorn High School, headed to Mississippi State.

She said the essay contest was definitely a learning experience.

“I did a lot of research on the statistics and how fatal texting and driving accidents are and it really opened my eyes to just focus on the road while I’m on the road,” Behrens said.

After being recognized during a breakfast, the students took part in the recording of a public service announcement about the dangers of distracted driving.

You can read the winning submissions here:

Michael McMeen’s essay

Bethaney Jackon’s essay

Tyler Behren’s essay

We thank them for their efforts, congratulate them on their wins and wish them all the best in the future!