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Car crashes claim the most lives of young people. Yet the cause receives little attention.
We talk about guns, cancer, drownings and vaccinations—all important issues!—yet, the No. 1 cause of deaths in the U.S. is car crashes.
The gut-wrenching part: most of
the deaths are avoidable. Avoiding them starts with awareness.
Here are three parents who lost a child due to distracted
driving. These parents have more than the loss of a child in common. It was that loss that turned them, incredibly enough, in road safety advocates.
Joel Feldman is a lawyer who, along with his wife Dianne Anderson, founded End Distracted Driving, after the couple lost their daughter
to a distracted driver.
Casey Feldman was born April 6, 1988, and died
July 17, 2009. Later that year they established the Casey Feldman Foundation.
Casey, 21, was a pedestrian in a crosswalk during daylight hours at an intersection governed by 4-way stop signs. She was hit by a distracted driver, a college senior at Fordham University in New York. The driver was reaching across the center console for a drink when Casey was struck. She died five hours later.
The goal of End Distracted Driving is to inspire people and communities to take action to end distracted driving. "Casey was a compassionate person as well as a highly personable extrovert with a great sense of humor. She loved people, animals and life. She was a photography minor and enjoyed taking photographs of everything," Feldman and Anderson write on the website.
Casey's parents are passionate about making the epidemic that is distracted driving
come to an end. "Just a few seconds—not a very long amount of time. Yet, when you're behind a steering wheel and your eyes leave the road—that one single second can change your life and the lives of countless others. One second is all it takes to be distracted. When you are driving—it should not be a secondary task, it should be the only task."
organization offers school presentations, work presentations and stories from
people who have lost their loved ones to distracted driving. Their mission is
to preserve life and curb distracted driving, which is not just limited to
texting and driving.
Lao and Amy Lao
Lao and Amy's adorable 3-year-old Allison was killed in Queens in 2013 by a distracted driver. Allison and her grandmother were holding hands and crossing the street. They had the right of way.
The devastation of losing their daughter led them to founding Families for Safe Streets, whose membership includes victims of traffic violence, families whose loved ones have been killed or severely injured by aggressive or reckless driving and the dangerous conditions on New York City's streets.
Members banded together in early 2014 to turn their grief into action. The group was instrumental in lowering the citywide speed limit in New York City, among other critical safety initiatives. They also provide a range of supports to others with similar experiences.
Traffic crashes however are still the leading cause of injury-related deaths among New York City children—five children on average are hit by cars daily. They have become outspoken advocates for safer streets. The following is their message:
"Our message to all drivers is simple.
Before you get behind the wheel, realize that the machine you are about to operate can kill people. We may drive every day, but we need to be conscious of the enormous responsibility we have when we get behind the wheel.
We urge drivers to pay attention to the road, and to slow down, yield to pedestrians- they have the right of way, and it's the right thing to do. Your vehicles weigh one ton of steel, the average human body weighs a fraction of the vehicle, and is made up of fragile flesh and bones. New Yorkers are always in a hurry."
They ask whether it's worth running over a child because you're running late, whether answering a phone call is important enough to require a family bury its child, whether the risk of texting is worth it.
Jeri Dye Lynch
Jeri lost her son while he was running cross country. Conor was only 16. She immediately took action and became an advocate for safer streets.
The Conor Lynch Foundation partners and works with many other groups promoting street safety and Lynch actively participates in the Steering Committee for LA Walks and the Advisory Committee for We Save Lives.
Lynch received the 25th Anniversary 2015 Pioneer Women Awards for being a woman of influence and leading the way in making the streets of Los Angeles a better place for everyone.
Lynch's annual run is October 25 in Los Angeles. I will be there with my own booth. My
9-year-old son will help me. I talk to my kids daily about the
importance of safe driving. I hope never to be in their shoes but I share their