Zimmerman teen in Buckle Up contest

The fate of a triumvirate of Minnesota teens is in the hands of voters to determine the champion of the 2012 Buckle Up, Teens! TV Commercial Challenge. Voting for the top spot in the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS)–AAA Minnesota/Iowa contest runs through May 23 at rockthebelt.org.

The winning teen will take home $1,000 and see their spot debut during the MTV Video Music Awards this summer. AAA Minnesota/Iowa will also award second- and third-place winners with $600 and $400, respectively.

The finalists were selected among 62 teen entries.

The Finalists — Vote at RocktheBelt.org

“Big Deal” — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuiKZ0EnTqo

Eli Guillou, St. Michael Albertville High School, St. Michael

“The Pain Never Goes Away” — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8aSsmhJWKE4

Marcus Johansson, Zimmerman High School, Elk River

“You’re Not In Hollywood” — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0UdG8jePP8

Nathaniel Davis, Winona Cotter High School, Winona

The prom and graduation seasons serve as the backdrop to the voting period, and May was the deadliest month for teens (ages 13–19) in the last decade — 89 killed during 2001–2010.

Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in Minnesota due to driver inexperience, risk-taking behavior, distractions, nighttime driving, speeding and seat belt non-use.

DPS urges parents to talk to their teens about the life-saving importance of seat belts, and the dangers and consequences of speeding, distracted driving and alcohol use.

Parents are encouraged to continue to provide supervised experience for their teen driver in a variety of conditions and road types and use a parent-teen driver contract to establish road rules, and follow through with consequences.