GREENVILLE, S.C., Jan. 23, 2020 — Michelin is sending Illinois teen Max Zinzilieta to college for just one penny. Zinzilieta, who plans to begin college this year, was awarded a $100,000 scholarship for using a penny to check the tread depth of his tires.
Michelin’s #PennyForAFreeRide scholarship sweepstakes was developed to help young drivers pursue their dreams and remind them to practice safe driving habits. Teen drivers had the chance to win a free ride to college — just by checking their car’s tire pressure or tread depth and sharing it on social media. Zinzilieta, from Mt. Vernon, Illinois, was randomly selected for the scholarship out of thousands of entrants throughout the U.S.
“We are thrilled to award Max the #PennyForAFreeRide scholarship, and offer him a better way forward in his college endeavors,” said Alexis Garcin, chairman and president of Michelin North America, Inc. “We hope this program sets an example for teens throughout the country and raises awareness of these simple, yet life-saving actions.”
Car crashes remain the No. 1 killer of teens in America,1 according to analysis by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and 738 tire-related deaths occur each year.2 Additionally, according to federal data, 457 distracted-driving deaths involving cell phones occurred in 2016.3
“The #PennyForAFreeRide sweepstakes brought an important issue to my attention,” Zinzilieta said. “I never checked my tires, but then I saw the scholarship and learned how to check mine for the first time. When I learned more about the number of teens involved in accidents each year, I understood just how critical tire safety is.”
Teens face a lot of pressure every day, and the pressure of going to college is high on the list. Rising college tuition prices force many teens to make education choices based on debt alone. In the last 20 years, college tuition fees at public universities have increased 221%.4
“This scholarship will help me focus on pursuing my education at a four-year college without taking on debt,” Zinzilieta said. “I plan to study computer science and linguistics ― two areas I’m passionate about.”
The #PennyForAFreeRide scholarship sweepstakes is a part of Michelin’s larger safety initiative, Beyond the Driving Test, which was first introduced in 2014 in partnership with Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). Beyond the Driving Test set a goal of gaining commitments from all 50 U.S. states to include consistent information about tire safety in new-driver training materials. That milestone was reached in 2017, more than two years ahead of plan. Today, 38 states have published life-saving tire-safety information in their training materials for new drivers, with new states added every year.
To learn more about tire safety and #PennyForAFreeRide, visit: https://beyondthedrivingtest.com.
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