Distracted Driving Awareness Month to focus on more than just texting

More than 3,000 distracted driving deaths in U.S. yearly

By John Michaelson
Minnesota News Connection

April 1 marked the start of Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Experts say this problem goes way beyond just handheld cell phone calls.

Founder Joel Feldman with the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation said that more needs to be done, because three-quarters of all distracted-driving injuries and deaths are unrelated to cell phone use.

“You can’t legislate against me reaching for my GPS, me reaching into my glove compartment, me reaching around if I’ve got an infant in the back in the car seat, me eating: there’s just so many things that can be distracted driving,” he said.

Feldman became an advocate on the issue after his daughter Casey, a 21-year-old college student, was struck and killed by a distracted driver in 2009.

Nationwide, he said, distracted driving is responsible for more than 3,000 fatalities per year.

A lot of Feldman’s efforts are focused on younger drivers. He works with lawyers nationwide who deal daily with the tragic consequences of distracted-driving accidents to carry the message into schools about the need to break dangerous habits.

“Studies show that teens who grow up in a household where the parents drive distracted are two to four times more likely to drive distracted; I drove distracted all the time before my daughter was killed,” he said. “I was a poor role model; I would drive distracted with my kids in the car.”

Feldman said that many students express concerns about their parents’ distracted driving. In Minnesota, texting while driving is illegal.

State-by-state laws are at distraction.gov. More on the issue is at CaseyFeldmanFoundation.org.