The State House in Boston hosted a timely discussion this morning on distracted driving, just two days after an allegedly distracted bus driver slammed into a low-hanging overpass, injuring 35 tourists from the Philadelphia-area.
"Distracted driving is a choice; a selfish choice," said Joel Feldman, a Philadelphia attorney who in 2009 lost his 21-year-old daughter Casey to a distracted driver.
Feldman was helping to kick off The Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys' participation in his national campaign, "End Distracted Driving," which educates teenagers about the dangers of driving while distracted.
But the allegedly distracted bus driver in Saturday's crash was 66-years-old, and the victims were mostly teenagers, which drives home the point that young motorists are not always to blame.
"It's all of us. The teens you can get to easier because they don't have bad habits. You can start young. I'm firmly convinced that the teens are going to change the rest of us because they're going to say to the rest of us, 'You can't be driving that way. You can't be using your cell phone, or programing your GPS, then tell me not to do it. You're a hypocrite,'" Feldman said.
Texting behind the wheel is often associated with distracted driving, but according to Feldman, only one-third of distracted driving fatalities involves the use of cell phones. Other culprits include eating, drinking, and programming a GPS.
Citing thousands of vehicular deaths, Governor Deval Patrick today declared February 4 "Distracted Driving Day" in the hope that Massachusetts residents will pay attention while behind the wheel.
Feldman will again join the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys tomorrow at Medford High School, where he will deliver his presentation to teens.