Some 2200 NJ high school teens have participated in the EndDD distracted driving presentation over the last few weeks. Joel Feldman, father of Casey Feldman, who was killed by a distracted driver in 2009 while crossing a street in Ocean City, NJ, took the EndDD presentation to teens at Salem, Oakcrest and EggHarbor Township High Schools while Casey’s college friend, Brooke Burdge, spoke to some 1000 students at Monmouth Regional High School. Traffic safety professionals also had the opportunity to participate in the presentation at a seminar provided by the South Jersey Traffic Safety Alliance (SJTSA). In addition, members of the New Jersey Association of Justice have taken up the cause and have vowed to continue to reach NJ teens with the EndDD presentation.
The EndDD presentation was developed by Joel Feldman with the help of researchers, traffic safety experts and teen messaging experts to maximize teen engagement. Thus far, over 60,000 teens have seen the presentation and, with the assistance of volunteer speakers, the message is expected to reach some 200,000 students by the end of this year. 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.
Student Daniel Vaccaro at Egg Harbor Township High School contacted Mayor James “Sonny” McCullough and had March 18th, the day of the presentations in Egg Harbor, declared as “End Distracted Driving Day”.
Vaccaro learned that distracted driving is about more than texting. “The driver who hit Casey as she walked to her summer job in Ocean City wasn’t texting,” Vaccaro said. “He was reaching for something in his vehicle, and said he never saw her in front of him in a crosswalk.”
The program encourages teens to speak up for their safety while passengers and to talk to their parents and come up with a family agreement for distraction free driving. Said Joel Feldman, “The vast majority of the teens with whom I have spoken report that their parents drive distracted with them in the car. Thus, I was not surprised at all to read the recent survey that texting while driving, for example, is more widespread with adults than teens. What kind of role model are we for our children?”
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“School presentation puts face on dangers of distracted driving”, BRADEN CAMPBELL, The Press of Atlantic City, March 27, 2013
“Everyone Has A Story: Egg Harbor Township High student takes up cause against distracted driving”, MICHELLE BRUNETTI, The Press of Atlantic City, March 24, 2013