ST. PAUL, Minn. - Distracted driving is a problem we're all aware of, but many of us ignore. Now, students from the High School for the Recording Arts in St. Paul are betting that music can help cut through the noise.
Earlier this year, the school teamed with State Farm Insurance on a contest offering a prize and a music video to students who create the best song tackling safe driving.
The students didn't have to look far for inspiration.
“I can go on my SnapChat probably right now and there’s like 10 teens that I know that are driving and probably at the stoplight taking a picture,” said La'Raya, a 15-year-old singer who just finished her freshman year.
La'Raya worked with classmates to adapt her song 'Kruisin' in order to embrace a positive message without her peers losing interest.
"No one wants to hear a song about you saying, drive safely everybody, no one wants to really listen to that," she said. "I hope that it can at least inspire another teen to (say), 'Okay, you know what? Let me put the phone down.'"
For classmates like Lewis "Lewiee Blaze" McCabe and De'Sco "Dream" Hines, the songs were much more personal. Both say they have been personally impacted by distracted driving crashes, but they took different approaches to how they delivered that message.
Hines created a decidedly upbeat track despite his own tragic connection.
"My best friend has died in a car crash," Hines said. "But I want people to be happy about learning about putting their phone down and actually understanding what it looks like so that they don't have to feel like it's lame."
McCabe decided to tell a story through rap and struck a serious tone that he hopes others will connect with. He ends one verse summing it up in a simple message. "That's probably how my mother got hit. That's probably how my brother got hit. I seen them at the hospital and that's the reason that I made this."
The students say they feel strongly about creating music with a message. They also hope it can have an impact on a topic that only seems to be claiming more young lives.
Voting ended at 8 p.m. CST June 28, and the winner was La'Raya with her song 'Kruisin' - announced on KARE 11 News at 10 on Wednesday.
Listen to 'Kruisin,' and the other finalists, below: