By Dianne L. Anderson
Say what?! Yes, distracted driving comes in all shapes and as many colors as nail polish. In addition to the Casey Feldman Foundation’s philanthropy in awarding scholarships and grants to students and organizations, the Foundation is committed to ending distracted driving through its sponsored site, EndDD.org.
Casey Feldman was killed by a distracted driver in 2009 while crossing the street in a crosswalk at an intersection governed by 4-way stop signs. Joel Feldman, Casey Feldman’s father, is spreading the word nationwide and the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association (CTLA) is just one of 13 state organizations (in addition to Canada) which has taken up the cause and has committed its members to taking the EndDD.org presentation to teens in their communities. Some 60,000 students nationwide have seen the presentation since its inception in the Spring of 2012 and Feldman estimates that some 200,000 will have seen it by the end of this year.
The presentation was developed by Joel Feldman with the help of researchers, traffic safety experts and teen messaging experts to maximize teen engagement. Feldman has personally given the presentation to more than 7,000 teens across the country and has given 9 presentations in Colorado since January 9, 2013, reaching some 600 Colorado teens in the Denver, Boulder and Longmont area thus far. Joel is working with the CTLA to implement the program throughout the state and is providing training to its lawyers so that the message will continue to be spread.
As a result of his efforts in Colorado, Feldman received the CTLA 2013 Consumer Protection Award. “CTLA is proud to honor Joel with the Consumer Protection Award,” said John Sadwith, executive director at CTLA. “Joel and his wife, Dianne, share their tragedy to get teenagers thinking and their families talking about distracted driving. Our members want to help them succeed in saving lives.” Stated Feldman, “It is particularly gratifying to receive this award from the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association. Our son Brett will graduate from the University of Colorado Boulder this year and wants to make Colorado his permanent home. My wife and I love the Boulder/Denver area where we have made many new friends since working with the University on a number of projects over the last 4 years.”
The EndDD presentation is comprehensive and covers all forms of distracted driving, not just cell phone usage, which is attributed to less than 1/4 of distracted driving crashes as of 2009 data. “We do not want teens to have a false sense of security that if they are not using their cell phone, they are driving distraction free”, said Joel.
While teens across the country have recognized cell phone usage, eating, drinking, grooming, operating a GPS, talking to others in their vehicle and viewing roadside activity, as distractions, the Colorado teens added a few additional personal examples. Said one teen, “My cousin is thin and very flexible and she actually had her foot up on the steering wheel and was painting her toenails as she was driving! I was terrified.” Added another, “My mom was driving me while she put her contact lenses in her eyes! I was scared to death!”
Feldman has continued to affirm that distracted driving is not just a teen problem, but is everyone’s problem. “ In all of my presentations, the vast majority of the students report that their parents drive distracted with them in the car. I have been so impressed with the Colorado teens who I have spoken with. They are bright, engaged and really want to drive safely. I am convinced that they will avoid many driving distractions and will also work to get their moms and dads to drive safer. Their generation will change our driving culture, just as our generation changed the culture regarding seat belt usage,” said Feldman.
EndDD.org (End Distracted Driving – Casey Feldman Foundation sponsored site)
“Grieving father fights distracted driving in St. Vrain discussion”, The Times Call, Longmont, CO 1-9-2013
“Reaching out in our communities to keep our children safe: The 2012-13 EndDD,org High School Distracted Driving Awareness Program”, by Joel D. Feldman, Colorado Trial Lawyers Association Trial Talk, Aug/Sept 2012
United States Department of Transportration/National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA), “Distracted Driving 2009” Traffic Safety Facts Research Note, Sept 2010