When attorney Joel Feldman’s daughter Casey was killed by a distracted driver, he changed his own driving habits, but he did more—he committed himself to educating others about the dangers of distracted driving, especially teenagers. Feldman also helped launch EndDD.org (End Distracted Driving), which provides resources about distracted driving, including a turnkey PowerPoint presentation that makes it easy for trial lawyers to speak to high school students about the subject. The presentation was designed with input of experts on behavior change theory and teen persuasion, and it has already been given to more than 50,000 teens. Many state trial lawyer associations are encouraging their members to participate in this year’s program, which is expected to reach more than 250,000 young people.
“Students were engaged and motivated not only to change their driving behaviors, but to speak with mom and dad and their friends about driving safer,” Feldman said. “Trial lawyers across the country are getting rave reviews from their communities and feeling great about connecting with teens.” Part of the program includes collecting data from teens, which will be the basis of a study on teen traffic safety. Another lawyer-developed initiative, born out of an Oprah Winfrey television program, asks people to sign a pledge to stop using cell phones while driving. Attorney Jeff Weinstein signed the pledge and went a step further by educating the local community about the dangers of distracted driving. His presentation ends with providing a pledge similar to the one Oprah asked her viewers to sign. He and his wife, Christi, also launched a website dedicated to the cause, NODD.org, which stands for No to Distracted Driving.
Weinstein has given at least 150 presentations to more than 17,000 people about the dangers of texting and other distractions behind the wheel. He works with other trial lawyers, including Feldman, on these initiatives and has received positive feedback from parents and teenagers in the community. “I know that this is the right project for me, my family, and our firm because it absolutely affects the safety of every member of our community,” Weinstein said.
Weinstein added that while there are no firm statistics on the impact of the project, he had no doubt of its effects. “I do know that we are making a difference,” said Weinstein. “I also believe that with every presentation, or casual conversation, we get a little closer to putting an end to another innocent victim being harmed by the dangers of distracted driving.”
To learn more about the Teen Traffic Safety Study, visit EndDD.org. For information about the No to Distracted Driving program, visit www.NODD.org.
Joel Feldman is an attorney at Anapol Schwartz in Philadelphia. He can be reached at email@example.com. Jeff Weinstein is an attorney at Weinstein Law in Athens, Texas. He can be reached at Jeff@LonghornLawyer.com.