Woodland High School students sign a pledge against distracted driving.

Students at Woodland High School learned the dangers of distracted driving and how they can help prevent fatal accidents themselves at a presentation a few weeks ago. Co-founder of End Distracted Driving ( Joel Feldman gave a presentation to students and used the example of his own 21-year-old daughter, who was killed by a distracted driver while crossing a street in 2009.

“I used to check my email and answer phone calls while I drove,” Feldman said in a news release. “As a driving society, our philosophy seems to be: ‘no one else can handle distracted driving but I can.’”

At the presentation, Feldman asked students to raise their hands if they had been a passenger in a car with a potentially drunken driver in the past month, and almost no hands were raised. However, when asked if they had been in a car with a driver who used a cellphone while driving in the past month, nearly every student’s hand went into the air.

“Drunk driving isn’t socially acceptable, however, this doesn’t seem to be the case with distracted driving,” Feldman said in the release. “As a society, we need to change that perception.”

According to a 2019 study released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2017, 9 percent of fatal crashes were reported as distraction-affected crashes resulting in 3,166 people being killed. 

“Current studies estimate 15 to 20 percent of car crashes are a result of distracted drivers; however, the number skyrockets to 60 percent of crashes caused by distraction when studying drivers who are 16 to 19 years of age,” Feldman said in the release. “The studies show that there’s no question as to how dangerous distracted driving is, especially to new drivers.”

To reduce distracted driving with their friends, Feldman encouraged students to be honest when they ride in a car with a distracted driver by asking them to put down the distraction. 

“Studies show that 78 percent of teen drivers say they wouldn’t text and drive if a friend told them it was wrong,” he said in the release. “90 percent would stop texting while driving if a friend in their car asked them to.”

After the presentation, students received pink bracelets in memory of Casey Feldman and lined up to sign a banner pledging to not drive distracted and to not let their friends or families drive distracted either.

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