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Bring an End Distracted Driving Presentation to Your School

Posted November 10, 2017

By Jonathan A. Karon

Last month I had the privilege of assisting Joel Feldman, an attorney from Philadelphia, with a presentation at the Massachusetts State House on the dangers of distracted driving. In 2009 Joel created EndDD.org (End Distracted Driving) to raise awareness and reduce the incidence of distracted driving. Joel undertook this important mission following the death of his 21 year old daughter, Casey, who was killed by a distracted driver. Since then, Joel and his wife, Dianne Anderson, have been committed to preventing future tragedies. Joel has traveled throughout the country giving presentations on distracted driving to countless school and community groups. One of my predecessors as President of the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys (MATA), Tim Kelleher, was so impressed with Joel’s work that he forged a partnership between Joel and MATA to have Joel train our members to bring these presentations to Massachusetts schools.

The statistics are sobering. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each day in the United States, approximately 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes involving a distracted driver. The good news is that Joel’s experience and surveys indicate that middle and high school students are receptive to learning about distracted driving and changing their behavior. In fact, it appears that a greater problem may be with a slightly older cohort and in some cases, their parents.

Joel relies heavily on audience participation to keep everyone engaged. For example, in one demonstration, a volunteer is asked to count from 1-15 and to recite the alphabet A-M. Then they’re asked to alternate between numbers and letters-“1A, 2B, etc.” The inevitable difficulty doing that illustrates the problem of divided attention. One of my parts of the presentation was to ask folks how far they thought a car going 60 mph would travel in four seconds. The answer is over the length of a football field. (This is important because sending or receiving a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds.) The presentation is illustrated with videos (some moving and some humorous) and Joel engages everyone in a honest discussion of what they consider distracted driving, their own distracted driving habits and how to diplomatically encourage safer driving by others.

Joel’s presentation is both moving and important. I have no doubt that it has saved lives. In Massachusetts MATA has brought EDD presentations to almost 40 different groups and thousands of students and adults. Thanks to Joel’s efforts EDD presentations have reached an audience of over 367,000 people nationwide.

Most importantly, you can bring an EDD presentation to a school in your Town. If you live in Massachusetts, you can contact MATA’s Director of Development, Sheila Sweeney at 781-425-5040 or e-mail her through MATA’s web page at www.massacademy.com/index.cfm?pg=Meet%20Staff. If you live in another state, you can request a speaker by going to the website www.enddd.org/enddd-org-end-distracted-driving-campaign/ (which also has a wealth of information on distracted driving).

Since I’ve promised Joel I’d start doing EDD programs, you might even see me there.


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