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School Daze: the danger of distracted driving in school zones

MADISON COUNTY, Ala. - Twice a day, Jeff Road just might be the busiest road in Madison County.

With four schools in a three-mile stretch, mornings and afternoons can be chaotic, to say the least.

Madison County sheriff's deputies are there to watch the traffic and the crosswalks. But, they also see something else - far too many people, driving distracted.

We recently met up with Deputy Brian Smith who told us, "on the way over here, I watched three parents...with their phones out and they've got them on the steering wheel, while they're driving."

Of course, a lot of young drivers are also guilty. Adding to the danger, a lack of experience behind the wheel.

Deputy Smith says he understands the temptation to respond to messages or even just glance at a text.

That's why the school resource officer tells all the teen drivers he sees, "put the phones up. Put it in the seat next to you. Turn it off."

Attorney Joe King has seen what happens when people ignore that advice.

"More and more, in just what used to be run of the mill car wrecks, it's people on phones now."

The consequences can be deadly. But, even if no one is killed, the consequences are still devastating.

"People's lives are never put back to where they were. They can't walk. They can't work. They can't enjoy what they used to do, just because somebody was on a cell phone," King says.

That's why the firm of Morris, King & Hodge sponsors several safe driving programs, including the WHNT News 19 Distracted Driving project.

As part of that project, a one-hour special aired earlier this year, looking at the distracted driving issue from all angles - from the legal repercussions to the social implications, even the political debate.

If you missed the original airing, you can watch it here. We hope it helps you and your family continue the distracted driving conversation.