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Millie, at center, a service dog for Alabama Associated General Contractors, met students at Midtown Elementary School during a session about distracted driving’s threats. CONTRIBUTED

At Midtown, service dog Millie drives home the threat of distracted driving

MADISON – Millie, a service dog with Alabama Associated General Contractors, helped drive home the dangers of distracted driving to students at Midtown Elementary School.

Granted, the elementary-grade students are years away from driving, but they can remind their parents or other drivers about phone calls or other habits leading to distracted driving.

Morris King, an accountant with Vulcan Materials and representative of Alabama Associated General Contractors, has traveled around the state with Millie to promote safe driving in highway work zones,” John Peck said. Peck is Manager of Public Relations for Madison City Schools.

Seven-year-old Millie is a United Kennel Club/American Kennel Club champion retriever and certified therapy dog. During the program, Millie sat at attention as King discussed the importance of safe driving. An Alabama State Trooper accompanied King, who discussed a PowerPoint presentation geared for a young audience.

King set the stage with posters, shaped like highway “Yield” signs attached to a column of orange-and-white cones. The signs’ message stated, “No Phones in the Cone Zone.” Millie wore a yellow hard hat and sunglasses while sitting by an orange traffic cone.

A large, background screen read, “Lessons from Millie – You play a role in AGC Work Zone Safety – Drive Safe America. — Millie.”

“One ominous part of the presentation was when King asked how many students had been in a car with a driver texting. A vast majority of the students thrust their hands in the air,” Peck said.

In the program, “King noted that five seconds of inattention to look at a text while driving 55 mph would be the equivalent of driving the length of a football field with one’s eyes closed,” Peck said.

“Millie was clearly a hit with the kids, with most of their questions afterward centering on the dog and not the message,” Peck said. “But King hopes they’ll remember Millie’s visit and help save lives by ‘calling a driver out’ for being distracted by a cell phone.”

Distracted driving can include texting, calling with a cell phone, eating and drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, reading (even the text on a navigation system), watching a video, adjusting music, among others. (trustedchoice.com/distracted-driving/alabama-laws/)

Compared to most states, Alabama has relaxed laws for distracted driving laws. One example is Alabama’s fine for distracted driving, which is among the lowest in the country.

For more information, visit alagc.org or dot.state.al.us/programs/distractedDriver.html.

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