Huntsville lawyer speaks about dangers of distracted driving

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - This month, WHNT News 19 debuts a new initiative. We're Taking Action against distracted driving.  With your help, we can get results.

We're asking you to consider how distractions -- from your phone to a quick lunch behind the wheel -- can affect your driving.

We also invite you to watch some of the special content we've put together which examines how such distractions are taking far too many lives, while ruining others.

"We are very passionate about distracted driving. It's very personal to us," said Joe King, an attorney at Morris King & Hodge in Huntsville.

Every day, King represents someone whose life has been turned upside down by distracted driving.

"We've seen the real life consequences of texting and driving and it's catastrophic," said King.

And, as a witness to the legal proceedings that often follow these crashes, King has seen the increasing impact of technology.

"You would begin to hear - 'well I was talking on my phone or I dropped my phone, I was looking for my phone' - to now, you get in a situation of - 'I was answering an email or I was playing on Facebook or I was searching for a road on Google'," King said.

King says these drivers aren't necessarily bad people.  However, there is a grave lack of understanding in their actions.

"How dangerous is it to text and drive?" we asked.  "The National Highway Safety Commission just released a study that concluded texting and driving was six times more dangerous than drinking and driving," King said.

While everyone now understands drunk driving kills, that wasn't always the case.

"Through public awareness campaigns and in large part because of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, attitudes changed," said King. "That's where we are with texting and driving right now."

Morris King & Hodge is helping change attitudes by sponsoring programs aimed at curbing distracted driving. One includes the firm's Driver Safety Scholarship Fund.

The firm also sponsors the Madison County Sheriff's Office Distracted Driving course, which allows the agency to offer the program free to area teens.

The bottom line here -- no message is more important than a life.

"Whatever it is, it's not worth what these people have had to give up, you're either going to hurt yourself or you're going to hurt someone else," said King.

WHNT News 19 is proud to partner with Morris King and Hodge for a prime-time special on distracted driving.  It will air Saturday, February 27 from 7 to 8 p.m.  We'll also have more stories on our newscasts and on WHNT.com throughout the month.

We'd love for you to weigh in on this topic too.  Take our distracted driving survey or test your knowledge with our quiz.