“Mom, I love you, but I don’t feel safe when you drive me while texting.” That’s where we need to start.
Distracted driving statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicate that at least nine of us are killed — and nearly 1,000 injured daily — from distracted driving. The distracted driving statistic you won’t find on NHTSA’s site is that more than 60% of moms and dads text, email, access Facebook, eat and put on makeup while driving their children.
How do I know that? Since my daughter, Casey, was killed by a distracted driver in 2009, I have spoken with about 125,000 teens, in 40 states and Canada, and I always ask students if their moms and dads drive distracted. The results speak for themselves.
So it is imperative that we teach teens, and even younger children, to recognize when mom and dad, and others, drive them distracted and how to effectively speak up so that their drivers drive safely.
Having your child tell you that they love you, but that the way you drive scares them, should be an eye-opener for every parent. In fact, recently, after talks to ninth-graders at a Pennsylvania high school, one student went home and told her mother how she felt about her texting. After that conversation, her mom put down her phone.
As parents, we say we would do anything to keep our children safe, yet many of us take chances when driving our children. Isn’t it time for our actions to match our words? Until parents change their driving behaviors, we will continue to teach our children how to protect themselves from mom and dad’s poor driving decisions.
Joel Feldman is an attorney in Philadelphia who established EndDD.org after his daughter Casey was killed by a distracted driver. Since her death he has spoken to more than 125,000 teens and adults across the country about distracted driving. Mr. Feldman can be reached at info@EndDD.org