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THIS WEEK’S FEATURED STORIES

Education: WHS program targets distracted driving

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

The driver who hit and killed Casey Feldman as she crossed a street in New Jersey wasn’t texting. He was looking for a place to put down his drink. He was 59. She was 21, a university student on her way to her summer job at the Jersey shore.

“We want to think of distracted driving as a teen problem, but it’s not,” said George Jebaily.

He will speak to students at Waccamaw High on Friday about distracted driving in a program sponsored by the Casey Feldman Foundation. “We feel it’s an important topic for students and for parents,” said Becky Sanders, a board member of the school’s parent-teacher-student association, which initiated the talk.

Jebaily has practiced law in Florence for the last 30 years. “I’ve seen so many people broken and lives broken by the carelessness of others,” he said.

He was at a conference when he met Joel Feldman, who is also a lawyer. Jebaily had his daughter with him.

“It just made it so real,” Jebaily said. “He’s sitting next to me and his daughter’s dead because of a distracted driver.”

Feldman said they were looking for speakers for EndDD, one of the foundation’s programs. Jebaily signed up.

“It’s helped bring awareness to me,” he said, speaking by phone from Florence in an interview that he interrupted because he was getting into his car. “It’s remarkable the bad behavior that parents model for their children.”

There are many distractions, but the worst, he said, is sending and reading text messages. “Texting while driving is just as if not more dangerous than drinking and driving,” Jebaily said. And under South Carolina law, drivers have the same duty of care as if they had a gun in their hand. “Would you be texting and shooting at the same time?” he said.

His presentation to the students includes video about the victims and the perpetrators. “We can easily see ourselves in both positions,” he said.

Students will get a checklist with 12 items that prevent distracted driving. They’ll be asked to take them home and get every driver in their family to sign an agreement to follow those steps.

“We try to reach as many teens and parents as possible,” Jebaily said.

More information, including a copy of the checklist, is available online at enddd.org.

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