Chappaqua’s Ben Lieberman, co-founder of Distracted Operators Risk Casualties (DORCs), and his family are historically introducing a bipartisan state bill making New York the first state to attempt a distracted driving policy solution. The bill would enable police to examine phones at an accident site in a way that, notably, completely avoids drivers’ personal data.
The proposed law, called “Evan’s Law,” is named after Ben’s 19-year-old son, Evan, who lost his life in a 2011 collision caused by a distracted driver.
Evan’s Law, and the technology referred to as the “textalyzer,” is now being featured on ABC News, The Today Show, CNN, CNBC & the Washington Post.
The textalyzer is being touted as another tool to help local police departments fight distracted driving.
The Town of New Castle, New Castle community volunteers, the Horace Greeley High School SADD Club along with Get Reel Productions, LLC, a local media company based in Chappaqua, (http://www.getreelproductions.org), have released a Public Service Announcement (“PSA”) documenting the story of the Lieberman’s tragic loss and New Castle’s effort to change habits and laws regarding distracted driving.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driving a vehicle while texting is six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated. Despite this fact, and despite knowledge of the risk to themselves and others, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that 67 percent of drivers still use their mobile phones while behind the wheel. According to records released by LoHUD, the number of texting tickets in Westchester was up by 14 percent. LoHud provides a database that tracks distracted driving stats.
New Castle Supervisor Rob Greenstein says, “Since we started in October of 2014 there have been more than 1,000 tickets issued for distracted driving offenses. Our police department, under the leadership of Police Chief Charles Ferry, has done an incredible job combating this destructive behavior. We have one officer, Police Officer Chad Golanec, who in 2015 has issued more distracted driving tickets himself than all of two neighboring counties combined. He even recently issued a ticket to a backhoe operator!”
Police Officer Chad Golanec, who was instrumental in helping to produce the PSA film, says “I’m so proud to be a part of this initiative. The PSA is very powerful”.
Linda Kallner, co-owner of Get Reel Productions, says “My hope is that this PSA saves many, many lives! For me, and in honor of Evan Lieberman and his courageous family, New Castle, New York will forever be at the heart of the cause to put down Smartphones when we drive”.
Dr. David Greenfield, who is the founder of The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction (www.virtual-addiction.com) and an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, and who took part in the PSA stated “I’m really glad this message is getting out there; its been an honor to be involved in this project.”
New Castle Police Chief Ferry stated “the PSA is wonderful. Linda Kallner and Lyle Anderson of Get Reel Productions produced a very powerful video. We are so fortunate that Dr Greenfield agreed to be a part of the project. His knowledge and credibility in the field of electronic addiction, and his insightful comments are a large part of the success we are seeing.”
New Castle Supervisor Rob Greenstein stated “Our town is committed to being leaders in combating distracted driving. We hope other towns and cities around New York and across the country share this PSA: https://vimeo.com/162567095 and help get the message out! We all need to do our part to combat this national epidemic.”
Ben Lieberman says “This is a special community. The latest town effort is one example of helping our neighbors avoid this horrible outcome but also, to help our family in the aftermath.”