She was only 21 years old. She had her whole life in front of her. But Casey Feldman was struck and killed while walking across the street…by a driver who took his eyes off the road for a moment to check his GPS. That was 9 years ago, and her father, Joel Feldman, a lawyer from Philadelphia, is still grieving. But he’s taken that grief and turned it into something positive. He talks with high school students across the country about the dangers of distracted driving.
Feldman recently teamed up with Dr. John Sojka, an orthopedic trauma surgeon at The University of Kansas Health System, to bring the powerful presentation, just in time for prom season, to the whole student body at Rockhurst High School. The focus is on distracted driving, and how of the 40-thousand traffic deaths every year in America, 25 percent of those are caused, not by drunk drivers, but distracted drivers. They’re hoping to shape young minds before they develop those bad habits…habits they often see when their own parents drive.
In the video, Dr. John Sojka explains why he teamed up with Joel Feldman. He says teens are the most inexperienced and distracted drivers, and he sees the consequences every day. He says he shows some pretty shocking trauma pictures to bring home the point that tragic injuries are not a video game and can shatter many lives. He hopes each student takes this message home to share with their family.
Joel Feldman says it was important to team up with a trauma surgeon such as Dr. Sojka to bring home the message, and he’s optimistic that many students and adults are changing their driving habits as a result. He also says it’s also important for passengers to speak up when they see their driver distracted, calling such driving habits selfish. He hopes someday distracted driving will be as socially unacceptable as drinking and driving.
David Edmonds is a senior at Rockhurst High School, who sees distracted driving every day, and the presentation has convinced him to keep others, both family and friends, from doing it, and not be afraid to speak up. He says too many people his age feel they’re invincible and nothing will ever happen to them. He says drinking and driving is taboo among most teens, but not so much texting and driving.
Also included is a very powerful video (please courtesy Department of Transportation) shown during the presentation. It features accident scene video from Casey’s death, Casey’s family and friends, and Casey’s anguished mother, crying that she couldn’t be there to comfort her daughter as she lay dying on the road, begging for her mom.
Also included is b-roll from the presentation at Rockhurst High School.