The National Safety Council reports that cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year.
Nearly 330,000 injuries occur each year from accidents caused by texting while driving. One out of every four car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving.
Last Monday, Troy High School in cooperation with the Lear Corporation held a student assembly focused on a very important topic: Distracted Driving. April is National Distracted Driving Awareness month, and Lear is challenging students and the general public to take a stand against Distracted Driving with their “2 Eyes 2 Hands” project.
They have partnered with area high schools and nationally recognized speaker Joel Feldman. Feldman is the founder of endDD.org, and gave a passionate and powerful speech to the senior class at Troy High entitled “Students Saving Lives by Changing the Way All of Us Think About Distracted Driving.”
The focal point of his presentation was his daughter Casey’s death, at age 21, at the hands of a distracted driver. “You come face to face with the fact that your daughter isn’t coming back,” said Feldman. “It impacts an entire family forever. You see her friends growing up without her, and that pain never goes away.”
Feldman harnessed his grief in order to make a difference in the lives of others by creating www.endDD.org, and to date has shared his message with hundreds of student and parent organizations across the country.
“It’s about changing behaviors behind the wheel, for sure, but it’s also about giving students the tools to have frank conversations with peers who text while driving, and parents who text while driving. It’s not always so easy, but speaking up— and following through—saves lives.”
Feldman involved students in his presentation by asking questions and soliciting feedback. He even invited a teacher and student on stage to roleplay a distracted driving scenario.
“It’s about caring for each other. If you wouldn’t let someone drive drunk, you shouldn’t let them drive distracted,” Feldman continued.
He said that kids can be the best weapons in the fight against distracted driving: “I’ve found that elementary and middle school students can be very effective advocates, calling their parents out when they see their attention diverted from the act of driving, for any number of reasons.”
Troy High School’s S.A.D.D. (Students Against Destructive Decisions) supported this presentation and said the message was a critical part of their mission.
According to SADD member, senior Richard Yang, “We are always looking out for emotional and physical safety issues—this past fall, before Homecoming, we displayed a smashed up car in front of the school, to give students visual evidence about driving while drunk or distracted. This seminar was a great reminder with Prom and Graduation coming up.”
As he wrapped up his presentation, Feldman passed out pink wristbands in remembrance of Casey, and invited students to sign the giant banner in the hallway that said ‘Take a STAND: I pledge that I will keep my eyes on the road, keep my mind on driving, keep my hands on the wheel.’
Feldman concluded by saying “I’m fortunate I get to do this, to get people’s attention about distracted driving, to make a difference.”