Monday, May 19, 2014

The Distracted Driving Educational Campaign

From: Joel Feldman with

As a practicing attorney I had represented those injured and the family members of those killed by distracted drivers for more than 30 years. Despite doing so I continued to drive distracted-even with my children in the car. I thought I was a good driver, was experienced and that crashes were caused by others not me. My daughter Casey was killed by a distracted driver in 2009. It was only then that I started to look at my own driving attitudes and behaviors. It was only then that I changed the way I drive.

I started speaking at events and did so for several months and then one day wondered whether my telling a sad story about my daughter’s death was really changing attitudes and behaviors. I partnered with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and we developed a science based distracted driving presentation that has been periodically reviewed for its effectiveness. We are now using the 4th presentation as it is updated based on survey information, analysis of surveys, focus groups and feedback. After Casey’s death I received my masters in counseling and use those skills in maximizing opportunities for attitude and behavior change when presenting. The presentation is grounded in behavior change theory and health communication theory and our teen presentation was designed not to confront teens but to enlist their help in solving what is clearly not just a teen problem.
When speaking with parents we appeal to their desire to be good role models and to keep their children safe and to not just tell their children how to safely drive but, through example, be the drivers they want their children to be. To date I have spoken with more than 20,000 teens and about 10,000 adults across the country and in Canada. From speaking with teens I learned that many of their parents, as well as other parents in car pools, routinely drive them while distracted and that most of their friends also drive distracted. I also learned that teens do not have the skills to effectively speak up when they experience distracted driving. Accordingly we use a bystander intervention program to teach those skills that was adapted from the Bacchus Network, working through a grant from the Colorado Department of Transportation. We developed a number of PSAs used in our power point presentation, including one for the USDOT’s Faces of Distracted driving Series. All of our videos and the presentation itself can be downloaded at The attached brochure provides more information about distracted driving and our presentation themes. Being a trial lawyer I reached out to trial lawyers across the country to help give presentations in their communities. We now have almost 1000 trained volunteer speakers, mostly lawyers, but also healthcare professionals, safety professionals, driver’s education instructors and college students. Collectively more than 200,000 teens and adults have seen an presentation in 40 states and Canada. The Colorado effort involves the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association and has resulted in more than 4,000 teens across the sate seeing presentations. There is no cost for a school to have a speaker come in and do presentations. The effort also included using a distracted driving problem for the 2014 Colorado high school mock jury competition which was completed in April of 2014. Our distracted driving brochure is attached.

Presently updates are being made to the teen presentation, an on-line presentation for teens to watch at home with parents is being developed and in the fall of 2014 a middle school distracted driving presentation will be released. For more information e-mail Joel Feldman at and see the brochure.