Joel Feldman receives the 2011 Pennsylvania Association for Justice 2011 Community Service Award for work in distracted driving
On October 21, 2011 Kenneth Rothweiler, President of Pennsylvania Association for Justice, presented Joel Feldman of the law firm of Anapol, Schwartz in Philadelphia with PAJ’s 2011 Community Service Award. Mr Rothweiler spoke about how the news of Casey’s death had affected him, as well as the entire legal community. He said that Joel chose to try to turn the tragedy into something positive, and had succeeded by taking steps so that others’ children did not also die senseless deaths. He said that it was an easy choice for him to select Joel as the recipient of the Community Service Award for 2011.
Since Casey’s death at the hands of a distracted driver in 2009, Joel, and his wife Dianne, have worked to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving in order to save lives. Their collective efforts resulted in reduced pedestrian deaths in New Jersey as a result of a new pedestrian safety law and raising awareness for drivers and pedestrians about the shared responsibility for safety. Each summer many New Jersey shore communities display prominent banners with Casey’s picture as reminders of that shared responsibility. The Feldmans have received many calls and messages from those touched by Casey’s story and who have changed the way they drive or walk as pedestrians. Joel has spoken at area high schools and driver’s education classes, as well as community events to raise awareness about all types of distracted driving. Those efforts culminated in Joel producing for the US Department of Transportation a 3 minute public service video for the Faces of Distracted driving series introduced by US Secretary of Transportation Ray La Hood . The video features Casey’s friends and Dianne and continues to be used across the country to raise awareness of the terrible toll that distracted driving takes each and every day on our highways. Secretary La Hood, in a letter congratulating Joel on receiving the 2011 Community Service Award from PAJ said the following:
Joel Feldman and his wife Dianne suffered a loss no parent should ever have to bear. A single, momentary distraction behind the wheel ended their 21-year old daughter Casey’s life at a time when it should have just been starting. But, they chose to channel their tragedy into positive action-founding the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation to help stop other senseless, preventable crashes.
Distracted driving is an issue that is close to my heart, and I am proud of the work we’ve done at the Department of Transportation to raise awareness about its dangers. But I am most encouraged because I know we are not alone in this fight. Our cause has been taken up by families, students, employers, legislators, and law enforcement communities across the country.
I applaud Joel Feldman for being one of these advocates. I congratulate him on receiving the [Award] tonight. And I hope we can all, in Casey’s memory, remember to keep our eyes on the road, hands on the wheel and our focus on driving-today and every day.
In also congratulating Joel, Pamela Fischer, former Director of New Jersey’s Traffic Safety Division, stated:
Since meeting Joel, I’ve never taken off the pink bracelet that memorializes Casey. And tonight Joel, I know that Casey’s star is shining brightly on you. Thank you for the work you are doing to keep her memory and the memory of so many loved ones lost in motor vehicle crashes alive…. To everyone in attendance tonight, I urge you to join with Joel in helping to promote his lifesaving message. Together we can prevent motor vehicle crashes and save lives.
In accepting the award, Joel said that he had been a distracted driver before Casey’s death and, in looking back, believed he was fortunate not to have killed someone’s child, spouse, parent or friend. He said that those who have killed others through their distracted driving are, for the most part, just like all of us believing that they could successfully multi-task while driving. He said that one day our luck will run out if we do not change the way we drive. He also said that he had driven distracted with his own children in the car and questioned what type of role model he had been in doing so. He asked those in attendance to contemplate something very scary-that our children may also believe that they will not get into an accident when they take chances when driving.
He also said that there were a number of things that lawyers could do to save lives, including setting policies against texting and hand-held cell phone use in each of our places of employment, and joining with an effort by Joel’s firm, Anapol Schwartz, and other law firms to sponsor schools across Pennsylvania to bring distracted driving awareness programs into those schools. “Our children are most at risk and we can give them the promise of full and productive lives by helping them make safer choices when driving,” said Joel. The three minute public service video was played for those in attendance and Joel concluded by asking, “What will it take for us to change the way we drive?”