Congratulations to Shelby Harper, the recipient of the Distasio Law Firm Distraction-Free Driving PSA Scholarship. Shelby, 20, a junior at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, submitted a powerful Public Service Announcement (PSA) video about answering the phone while driving.
Safe driving is a subject close to Shelby’s heart. In 2012, a 16-year-old neighbor, Amelia Keown, was killed in a car accident that involved a drunk driver. This senseless and tragic death propelled Shelby to make this PSA.
A young death affects an entire community, Shelby said. “It’s particularly affected when a story has been taken away when it hasn’t yet been written.”
The Distasio scholarship awards $2,500 to one student per year and is meant to raise awareness among teens about distracted driving. Applicants fill out a form and create a video public PSA.
Distasio Law Firm has represented cases with every sort of injury, but the saddest injuries to us are from senseless acts of distracted driving.
Our firm’s founder, Scott Distasio, believes that this world would be a better place if we all looked out for one another more than we do now. Shelby clearly believes the same.
Shelby has already posted her PSA on TikTok and has reached 1400 viewers. A few teens have reached out to her to thank her for raising awareness.
Shelby is from Maryville, TN, where she lives with her parents, Theresa and Craig Harper.
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Shelby’s PSA is simple and powerful. Standing in her driveway next to her car, she narrates a chilling scenario, using a real-life example of visiting her boyfriend, Caston Weeks, in the middle of the COVID-19 lockdown. Caston calls her while she is driving, she answers the phone, becomes distracted, gets into an accident, and is killed.
In reality, Shelby turns her phone on silent while driving. Her message to young drivers is “This doesn’t have to be normal. It can be different.”
Shelby has a passion to help young people. She is a history major with a minor in education and hopes to be a teacher.
“I have kind of a passion for youth. Even though I technically am one,’’ she said.
Our firm urges students interested in this scholarship to apply by June 1, 2021, for next year’s award.