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“Alive and Alert”: Two High School Students’ Campaign to End Distracted Driving

Lexi Mutascio and Mackenzie Dyke are more than just your average high school students. Juniors at King Philip Regional High School in Wrentham, MA, these two have created a massive campaign to bring awareness to one of society’s most dangerous practices: distracted driving.

The Alive and Alert Campaign is Mutascio’s and Dyke’s year-long DECA project. This is both students’ first year in DECA, which is a global business organization that strives to prepare students in both high school and college for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management by teaching them how to be savvy entrepreneurs and emerging leaders.

Out of all of the possible campaigns they have launched, Mutascio and Dyke chose distracted driving because it was an issue that hit close to home for the both of them—both girls have been in car crashes due to distracted driving. “On Dec. 26, I was in the car with my best friends on the way home from a shopping mall. Unfortunately, the driver was driving distracted and lost focus for about five seconds. We ended up hydroplaning down a hill and sliding off into a pole on the side of a road,” Mutascio recounted of her collision. “I was hospitalized for about a week with some critical injuries. I was lucky enough to actually survive and keep living my life, but others do not have that same privilege. We’re taking this experience to spread awareness to other people going through that experience [and] want to prevent people from having to go through something personally to change their driving ways.”

Run solely by the two juniors, The Alive and Alert Campaign began in Mutascio’s and Dyke’s small school community, but has since spread to their city and surrounding area, successfully impacting more than 50,000 individuals. The students are able to reach this many people by having an active social media presence, holding events in their community and by being featured in local newspapers.

The very first event held by Mutascio and Dyke occurred at their school’s Open House, where they conducted a survey and discovered that 99.6%of survey takers had witnessed someone text and drive, while another 88.4% admitted to being in a car while the driver was driving distracted.

“We weren’t expecting overwhelming statistics from the open house considering it was just our school—[we] understood that it [was] probably more relevant and evident in other areas,” Mutascio explained. However, both girls were surprised to see just how this issue affected their small community. “To see that distracted driving was prominent within our own area was shocking and just shows that everyone is not taking it as seriously as it needs to be taken. [Distracted driving] a worldwide epidemic that every single person can benefit from learning about.”

Since the Open House, Mutascio and Dyke have put on at least one event per month, ranging from educational programs, to competitions, to encouraging individuals to sign a pledge not to drive distracted, that helped the Alive and Alert campaign gain notoriety within the DECA community. Their project won the district DECA competition and now the two will be heading off to state, where if they win, they will then proceed to the international competition. However, even once the competitions are over, Mutascio and Dyke plan to continue to act as activists against distracted driving. “We’ve already decided to continue [the project] for at least this year,” Mutascio explained. “We think it is still important to spread the message and we already have so many more events planned for after the state conference.”

These upcoming events include pitching a proposal to partner with Wrentham’s local Lion’s Club chapter in hopes to spread awareness about distracted driving to schools across Massachusetts, having a representative from EndDD come to their school to give a presentation about the dangers of driving distracted and a Jeopardy-themed game night for the school that will act as a fun way to test students’ knowledge on distracted driving.

To learn more about and stay updated on upcoming events for Lexi Mutascio’s and Makenzie Dyke’s Alive and Alert campaign, be sure to check out their Twitter page, @AliveandAlertKP, and their Instagram profile, @AliveandAlert.

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Morgan Steward is a junior Communication and Media Studies student at Fordham College Lincoln Center, where she is the editor-in-chief of The Observer. Born in Beaumont, TX, she moved to New York City to pursue a career in the media. After being involved in a car crash as a senior in high school, Morgan is now passionate about advocating for safe driving.