Father makes it his mission to end distracted driving following death of his daughter
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Officials say that from 2011 through 2020, distracted driving was the cause behind one-third of all fatal crashes in New Jersey.
There is one New Jersey father who is making it his mission to put an end to distracted driving.
“I never thought it could happen to my child, but it can happen to you and it can happen to your children,” says Joel Feldman.
It’s been almost 13 years since Feldman’s daughter Casey died. She was 21 years old when she was killed by a distracted driver in Ocean City.
“She made being a dad easy. Casey made being a dad easy,” Feldman says.
Feldman says that since the day Casey died, he has made it his mission to tell her story through the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation.
EndDD.org is a part of that. Feldman speaks to students and adults about distracted driving.
“Just like when you look at somebody, hear somebody’s driven drunk, you think, ‘Oh my God!’ We want it to be the same for distracted driving and I think we can get there,” Feldman says.
He says that while he often speaks with those who are behind the wheel, such as adults and teens about distracted driving, it is just as important to speak with young children who sit in the backseat and watch their parents.
“What we’re doing is teaching the kids to say, in essence, ‘I love you mom. I love you dad. But I don’t feel safe when you drive on your phone.’ And I’ve tested that with parents, and oh boy, it hits you right [in the heart] if a little kid tells you that,” Feldman says.
The Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation has even put together a book to educate young children.
During Distracted Driving Awareness Month – which also happens to be Casey’s birthday month – Feldman will be speaking across the country, with not only Casey’s name on his arm via an armband, but also the names of others killed by distracted drivers.
“I look at these and these remind me that there’s so much work that needs to be done, because every life is really, really precious and there’s just something about taking a young life with a future in front of them and extinguishing that – that’s what drives me. That’s what drives me each and every day,” Feldman says.
Police will be cracking down on distracted driving with a statewide "U Drive, U Text, U Pay” campaign.
The New Jersey Attorney Generals' Office says last year a similar campaign resulted in more than 8,000 citations for cellphone use or texting.