You know how it goes. You’re driving along when your phone gives the little beep indicating that you’ve received a text message. You glance down at your phone and quickly scan the text. Your eyes are only off the road for a few seconds, and then you’re fully alert again. Nobody gets hurt. It’s not a big deal.
Try telling that to Joel Feldman, the father of Casey Feldman, who was 21-years old when she was killed in 2009 by a distracted driver. The young journalism student was crossing the street in daylight hours when she was struck by a motorist who was briefly distracted by his GPS system and didn’t see Casey in the crosswalk.
On February 4th, Joel Feldman along with family members of other distracted driving victims spoke at the Massachusetts State House to launch the “End Distracted Driving” program in Massachusetts. The nationwide program was created by Feldman in honor of his daughter, and the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Lawyers is participating by bringing the program to high schools around the state to promote the dangers of driving distracted.
You too can do your share to help end such senseless tragedies.
This month is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, which means that now is the perfect time to commit to bringing this deadly problem to a halt. How? A few ways:
1. Stop driving distracted. Driving distracted means performing any activity that might distract you or another driver’s attention from driving. These activities include:
- Eating and drinking
- Grooming (putting on make-up, combing hair, etc.)
- Using a navigation system or reading a map
- Adjusting a radio dial, CD or MP3 player
- Talking to other passengers or on a cell phone.
2. Prevent others from driving distracted. When you’re a passenger, remind distracted drivers that they’re putting their life, as well as the lives of others, at risk by their activities. Share the following statistics with them, if necessary:
- In 2011, 3,331 people were killed and 387,000 injured due to the actions of distracted drivers (Source: Distraction.gov)
- In 2010, 18% of all motor vehicle crashes involved a distracted driver (Source: Distraction.gov)
- Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent-at 55 mph-of driving the length of an entire football field, blind. (Source: Distraction.gov)
3. Talk to your teen or other young people about the reality of driving distracted. 11% of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were considered distracted at the time of the crash. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of the accident. Young people must be made aware that the dangers of driving distracted are very real.
4. Watch the “Faces” videos on the Distraction.gov website. These videos tell the haunting stories of 22 lives (including Casey Feldman’s) that ended abruptly due to distracted driving. It’s almost impossible not to feel overwhelmed with emotion seeing the pictures and videos of the beautiful young – sometimes very young – lives that have been so pointlessly lost, and witnessing the pain of their families and friends.
The important fact is that no text, email, sandwich, telephone call, or song on the radio is as important as someone’s life. Join me in making the pledge to never drive distracted again.
5. “One text or call can wreck it all,” is a theme for all to remember.