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Our Lady Of Lourdes Students Get Schooled On Dangers Of Distracted Driving

Joe Feldman, founder of End Distracted Driving, hold a picture of his daughter, Casey, who was killed by a distracted driver.
Joe Feldman, founder of End Distracted Driving, hold a picture of his daughter, Casey, who was killed by a distracted driver. Photo Credit: Courtesy Joel Feldman
Josh Feldman, founder of End Distracted Driving, does a distracted driving demonstration with students from Our Lady of Lourdes HS Tuesday morning.
Josh Feldman, founder of End Distracted Driving, does a distracted driving demonstration with students from Our Lady of Lourdes HS Tuesday morning. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Students listen intently Tuesday morning as speaker Joel Feldman enlightens them on the dangers of distracted driving.
Students listen intently Tuesday morning as speaker Joel Feldman enlightens them on the dangers of distracted driving. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Joel Feldman of End Distracted Driving talks to kids at Lourdes High School Tuesday morning.
Joel Feldman of End Distracted Driving talks to kids at Lourdes High School Tuesday morning. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Students listen intently Tuesday morning as speaker Joel Feldman enlightens them on the dangers of distracted driving.
Students listen intently Tuesday morning as speaker Joel Feldman enlightens them on the dangers of distracted driving. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. - Everyone does it.

People like Joel Feldman are trying to do something about it.

Distracted driving is becoming one of the most deadly problems facing drivers today.

To some extent, everyone drives with distractions.

The most obvious are texting and looking at GPS - but distractions are pretty much infinite, including eating, opening email, playing music, web browsing, reaching for something in the back seat, looking in the glovebox, cleaning something, adjusting clothing, brushing hair, and so many more.

Anything that takes your attention from the road.

And while the temptation is to think we can get away with it, the reality is that the result of distracted driving devastates families - and takes lives - every day.

That's the message Feldman - a nationally recognized speaker and the founder of End Distracted Driving - drove home at an emotional presentation - as part of Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation's Anti-Distracted Driving Campaign - Tuesday morning at Our Lady of Lourdes High School in Poughkeepsie.

Feldman, who has presented to more than 500 audiences throughout North America, knows what he's talking about. His daughter, Casey, was killed by a distracted driver in 2009.

Feldman knows that talking to kids is easy. But getting the message through in a way that resonates and changes behavior is the challenge.

"Those of us in traffic safety wrestle with that all the time," Feldman told Daily Voice. "So a lot of our presentation is science based. It used to be you would scare the kids - shock them, show them blood and gore. Science shows that's not always so effective.

"So we talk to the kids, we don't tell them what to do or not do," Feldman added. "We talk to them about what makes the other people do it. Adults, mom and dad, you and me - and we enlist their help to say - we can change the world."

The end message is clear: "If you care about your friends, you'll speak up," Feldman said. "Friends don't let friends drive drunk, friends shouldn't let friends drive distracted.

"This generation is very caring," he said. "They want to change the world, they're involved in causes, volunteer work, service work, so if you can empower them, I'm very optimistic they're going to change the way they drive. We let them know that more are going to be killed or seriously injured as a result of distracted driving than drunk driving - let's do something about it."

"I think this is one of a few messages you just can't stop delivering," Lourdes HS Principal Catherine Merryman said. "There are just so many distractions in a car, so I can't stress the importance of this type of presentation enough."

Many students clearly were paying attention, and have seen, or heard of, and been impacted by the many tragedies resulting from distracted driving - including several Feldman showed them.

"I think it's a very big deal," Lourdes senior Joe Scaglione told Daily Voice. "I've heard a lot of stories of kids driving distracted, and a lot of times they get away with it. I think it doesn't really impact someone until there's a death or a serious injury, so I think it's great to have a presentation like this."

Scaglione admits getting young people to change the way they behave isn't easy. "I think it's a difficult process," he said. "And unfortunately some people don't get the message until there's a serious outcome. I think the majority of kids will be impacted by a presentation like this. But there will also still be some who will refuse to take the advice. Hopefully this will reach the vast majority of kids."

For more information on Central Hudson's campaign to stop distracted driving prevention, click here . For info on End Distracted Driving, click here .

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