Scholarship Aimed at Saving Lives in Fort Collins

Jan 1, 1970 | Uncategorized

Heads Up/ Phones Down Scholarship $1,000.00 aimed at saving lives in Fort Collins

2017 was the deadliest year on Fort Collins streets in over a decade. There were more fatal car accidents than our city has experienced in a long time. As a father of six and longtime resident of Fort Collins, Bryan VanMeveren wanted to know what was happening to our community and what he could do to help.

Bryan started the Heads Up/ Phones Down Scholarship to create community awareness of this problem. His idea was to aim an educational campaign at the age group most likely to text and drive (18 to 30 years old). The Heads Up/ Phones Down Scholarship is open to students currently enrolled in a trade school, college or university program. The Scholarship is also open to high school seniors who are currently enrolling in one of the above programs.

As Bryan looked into the local and statewide increase in car accident fatalities one cause stood out: texting and driving. Long term research backs this up according to studies published by Cognitive Neuroscientist, David Strayer, Ph.D. For the past 12 years, Strayer has been studying how the brain reacts to cell phone use while driving. It turns out a lot of the technology that has been created to promote convenience can actually have an adverse effect and overload brain mechanisms, resulting in distractions,” Strayer says. To analyze human brain activity while using cell phones and driving Strayer uses traditional cognitive brain mapping techniques like electroencephalography (EEG) skull caps, to measure electrical impulses in combination with driver specific technology. For example, Strayer and his team use a detection response task device (DRT) to measure driver reaction time to red and green lights. “We’ve found that if you talk on a cellphone while driving, the odds of getting in a crash are four times higher than if you’re not talking on the phone,” Strayer says. “That’s basically the same odds as if you are legally drunk. It doesn’t matter if it’s hands-free or not — cognitively, you’re just as distracted.”

Bryan is asking these students to write a 500-1,000 word essay addressing the topic of “Distracted or inattentive driving: What impact does it have on our community?”. The scholarship amount is $1,000 and will be awarded twice a year. The current deadline is July 21, 2018. More information can be found at or by calling (970) 658-9795.