Close your eyes and count to four. This act would seem crazy to do if you were behind the wheel, yet millions of us do it every day. Four seconds is the amount of time it takes to write a quick text, scroll through your news feed, or answer a call. It’s also the amount of time it takes to change a life forever.
As drivers, we tend to think above our ability to do two or three things at once. We say to ourselves, a small distraction won’t harm us. We are safe drivers. It hasn’t happened yet so it probably never will. The problem is, the odds are against us. As we continue to engage in distracted behavior behind the wheel the likelihood of getting into an accident becomes a question of not if, but when. In 2016 alone, distracted driving cost 37,461 people their lives and the number continues to rise.
AAJ and Trial Lawyers Care Host Distracted Driving Webinar
To show support for Distracted Driving Awareness Month, Joel Feldman, an active safe driving advocate and the founder of The Casey Feldman Foundation and EndDD.org, hosted the AAJ webinar on Tuesday with a group of a few other passionate safe driving experts, attorneys, and activists. The group joined together to talk about the distracted driving epidemic society is facing today.
Steve Casner, a research psychologist and the author of Careful: A Users Guide to Our Injury-Prone Minds, joined the conversation and stressed that most drivers ignore warnings about driving distracted and continue to use their phones when they are behind the wheel because they’re just not convinced that it is all that dangerous. He explained how humans evaluate risk and that our minds convince us that even with our head down reading a text or using an app, if anything unusual were to happen around us while driving we would notice it. He explained how this far too common idea needs to be reevaluated.
Steve believes that in order to start solving the problem we have to each be honest with ourselves and our family members about our attention-paying abilities. We have to realize that our brains are far less able to handle multiple actions at once and don’t always work the way we think they do.
The Safe Teen Driver
As far as distracted driving goes, teenagers comprise a higher-risk group and nearly 60% of all teen accidents are caused by some sort of distraction. The President and CEO of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), Rick Birt, offered a bit of hope in the midst of this statistic. SADD, which is comprised of 10,000 active peer-to-peer chapters and has over 400,000 students across the country working to end distracted driving. For the past 34 years, his organization has focused on reducing teen incidents through awareness, education, and advocacy. SADD has also recently partnered with TextLess Live More to support the mission of ending distracted driving at the local, state, and federal levels.
Be the Driver You Want Your Kids to Be
The fact remains that kids model their parent’s behavior. A study done by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute found that teenagers who have parents that talk on the phone, send texts, or eat and drink while driving are 2 to 4 times more likely to engage in the same behavior.
Jessica Hoerman, an attorney, safe driving advocate, and mother of three teens was the first to admit during the webinar that she was a distracted driver in the past. She has had honest discussions with her kids about it and to raise awareness partners with Joel and EndDD.org to give science-based presentations on being a safe driver to hundreds of students throughout the community. She said the goal of each talk is to empower teens and new drivers with the knowledge and awareness that driving distracted is a choice, and every time you get in the driver’s seat, you have the power to drive distraction free.
The Casey Feldman Foundation
Joel and his wife Dianne know first-hand what an impact distracted driving can have on a family. They tragically lost their beautiful daughter Casey nine years ago to a driver who was reaching for his phone and didn’t see Casey when he hit her in the middle of a crosswalk. It only took a second and their lives were changed forever. To honor Casey, they started a foundation in her name and work every day to help ensure preventable tragedies like this are in fact prevented. As Joel says, “Listen to Casey’s story, share it, and commit to driving safer.”
Today, April 6th, 2018, would have been Casey’s 30th birthday. Even though she is no longer with us, there is a celebration on EndDD’s Facebook page where people all day will be sharing how Casey’s story has inspired them to make driving safer a priority. If you get the chance, visit their page, read her story, and take the pledge to become a distraction-free driver.
Casey Feldman has impacted many of us after her death. Join us in honoring Casey’s memory by spreading the dangers of distracted driving. If you would like Jessica or another safety advocate to speak to your school or community group for no cost, please contact us.