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Grissom, Huntsville High students hear important message about Distracted Driving

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Through 2016, WHNT News 19 has partnered with Morris, King and Hodge, a Huntsville law firm, to spread the important message encouraging people to Stop Distracted Driving.

We've presented this through a series of reports and visits to schools around north Alabama. Today, we visited Grissom and Huntsville High.  We were joined by Joel Feldman, a man who has made it his mission to end distracted driving.  He is an attorney who founded End Distracted Driving after his 21-year-old daughter was killed by a distracted driver in 2009.

Since that tragedy, Feldman has since become a nationally known speaker and spend much of his time, traveling the country and spreading the message to young drivers to put their phones away.

Our first stop was Grissom. We spoke to two different assemblies -- first, juniors and seniors, then a second group of freshmen and sophomores.  We then went to Huntsville High.

WATCH: Huntsville City Schools ETV's stream of the Distracted Driving presentation at Huntsville High

Feldman shared his experience with the students at both schools, admitting he used to check his cell phone while behind the wheel.

"I drove distracted all the time before my 21-year-old daughter, Casey, was killed by a distracted driver in 2009.  She was walking across the street in a crosswalk, it was broad daylight and a 58-year-old man who was reaching for his GPS blew through the stop light, hit her and killed her."

Within several months, Feldman founded the Casey Feldman Foundation and its "End Distracted Driving" program.

Many Grissom High School students raised their hands when the speaker asked if their parents drive distracted. (Photo: Melissa Riopka/WHNT News 19)

Many Grissom High School students raised their hands when the speaker asked if their parents drive distracted. (Photo: Melissa Riopka/WHNT News 19)

He asked students in the crowd to raise their hands if their parents drive distracted.  Sadly, there was a huge show of hands at both schools.

"If you grow up in a household with a mom or dad who drives distracted, you're three times as likely to also drive distracted," Feldman warned them.

He encouraged students to put their phones down, but to also speak up if their friends do it and they're riding with them.

"Just the way friends don't let friends drive drunk, friends shouldn't let friends drive distracted and I'm really optimistic and excited about kids, a new generation getting that message," Feldman added.

Joe King, an attorney with Morris, King and Hodge, and Claude E. Hundley III, Presiding District Judge of the 23rd Judicial Circuit also spoke at the two schools.  WHNT News 19 anchor Melissa Riopka did as well.