Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Distracted driving speaker visits Salida schools

From: The Mountain Mail

Joel Feldman, a Pennsylvania father who lost his daughter because of distracted driving, spoke to Salida High School and Crest Academy students at a special assembly Tuesday.

Crest Academy seventh-grader Tyler Brown helped bring Feldman to Salida for his presentation. Brown said that while researching a project about distracted driving, he found EndDD.org, founded by Feldman, and used some of his information for his project.

While working on his project, he emailed Feldman and invited him to come speak in Salida.

Brown said he thinks people should know about the dangers of distracted driving. Distracted driving is taking the place of drunk driving in car accidents and injuries, he said.

Feldman talked about how a distracted driver hit and killed his daughter and the danger that distracted driving can pose to everyone, because so many people do it.

Any task that takes a driver’s eye, hands or mind off the primary task of driving constitutes a distraction, Feldman said. While he talks to many high schools across the country, he said distracted driving is not just a teen issue, but an issue for everyone.

Feldman talked with students and teachers about role models and how the actions of everyone influence others and how they drive. He asked students and teachers what distracts them while they drive and what their reasons for having or allowing those distractions are.

He presented videos showing examples of distracted driving and stories of how distracted driving has killed people and how other people’s lives changed because of it. Feldman also talked about the importance of speaking up as a passenger in a car with a distracted driver.

“My hope is people will think about how they drive” and change their habits, Feldman said. Hopefully, people can stop distracted driving without needing a tragedy to make the change, he said. “It is not too late for each and every one of you.”

Brown said he liked Feldman’s speech, which “was more than (he) could have hoped for.”

The program fit in with Salida High School’s seat belt challenge, Principal Tami Thompson said.