In February 2011, the father of a young woman who was killed by a distracted driver sent DOT a video tribute to his daughter. Joel Feldman's powerful video about his daughter Casey was the first outside submission to become part of our Faces of Distracted Driving. And Casey's story has proven to be one of our most effective videos, capturing the attention of people around the world.
In the Fast Lane post about Casey's story, Joel wrote: "The families of those who have died as a result of distracted driving share a bond because of our loss. But we also share a bond because of our desire to have the deaths of our loved ones bring about some positive change."
Since then, Joel Feldman has not rested in his pursuit of that change. The organization he started, End Distracted Driving, has been a strong advocate in our fight to get drivers to keep their eyes on the road, their hands on the wheel, and their full attention on driving safely.
And, in honor of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, EndDD.org has launched the End Distracted Driving Student Awareness Initiative. This campaign seeks to educate students and other drivers throughout North America about the dangers of distracted driving. Perhaps more importantly, the Student Awareness Initiative gives drivers simple steps to keep them--and others--safe. Step number one? Drive without texting.
End Distracted Driving has an ambitious goal for its April initiative: to reach more than 100,000 young drivers.
EndDD makes it easy for volunteers by providing them with a terrific presentation, created in consultation with 60 for Safety, an attorneys' group dedicated to increasing safety awareness and preventing injuries through education.
While it's clear that Joel's work is helping keep Casey's memory alive, there's more to his activism: "After Casey was killed, I knew I could have easily been that driver. I had driven distracted many times. I lost Casey, and I changed the way I drive. But most people don't lose a loved one to distracted driving; they don't realize the chances they are taking when they try to multi-task behind the wheel."
So many drivers--in the U.S., in Canada, and around the world--take texting and talking on a cell phone behind the wheel absolutely for granted. They think they can engage in manual, visual, and cognitive distractions and still drive safely.
But they can't. The driver who struck and killed Casey Feldman couldn't do it. Joel Feldman recognized that he couldn't do it. I can't do it. You can't do it.
And the tens of thousands of students that EndDD's Student Awareness Initiative will reach this month can't do it.
So I'm thankful that End Distracted Driving's more than 800 volunteers are working hard throughout National Distracted Driving Awareness Month to spread the important safety message that cell phones and driving don't mix.