tbo: Tampa Bay Online.
Tuesday, Jun 19, 2018
  • Home

It’s simple: Slow down and pay attention

Pay attention. Slow down. Watch out for the other guy. Basic, simple, common-sense rules of the road.
Sadly, these days distracted drivers are killing and maiming tens of thousands — of passengers, pedestrians and other drivers. That cellphone call is more important than what lies ahead on the road. Getting your lipstick “just so” trumps the couple trying to cross the street for the coffee shop. Texting while driving is easy and OK, right? Wrong. Very wrong. Across the nation, some 3,000 Americans lost their lives in distracted-driving accidents in 2010. Each year, the numbers grow, and it’s time to shift this trend into reverse. Joel Feldman’s daughter was struck and killed by a distracted driver in 2009, and he said studies show that teens who grow up in a household where the parents drive while distracted are two to four times more likely to drive distracted when they get behind the wheel. You do what you know. “I drove distracted all the time before my daughter was killed,” said Feldman. “I was a poor role model: I would drive distracted with my kids in the car.” Feldman, who established the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation in memory of his daughter, believes education is the key to reducing distracted driving. He said laws against cellphone use can be passed, but three-quarters of injuries and deaths involve distractions other than cellphones, things such as eating or reaching back to tend to an infant. According to Peter Wetherall, one of 40 attorneys who just trained with Feldman to carry the message into public schools, personal-injury lawyers can be effective communicators because they see first-hand the tragic consequences of distracted driving. Texting while driving is prohibited in North Carolina (Florida lawmakers adopted a texting law this session), but there are no laws against using a handset while driving. Wetherall said he believes any phone conversations in the car take drivers’ attention off the road. “If you’re in a phone conversation, it doesn’t matter if you are hands-free or not,” said Wetherall. “It’s lack of focus on the road that is causing the danger.” More information on the distracted-driving issue can be found at CaseyFeldmanFoundation.org. And the next time you think you can eat those breakfast biscuits and coffee on the way the work, please, think again.
Weather Center