MORSE Code Attorney creates contest to make kids aware of dangers of distracted driving

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By Christine L. Mobley

Legal News

Teen drivers are more likely than other age groups to be involved in a fatal crash where distraction is reported, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association.

As an attorney who often has clients who are injured in accidents where distracted driving is a factor, Michael Morse of Michael Morse PC decided to take action.

In order to help teens learn about the dangers of distracted driving, Morse created the MORSE (Making Our Roads Safe Everywhere) Code College Scholarship Contest where $25,000 in scholarships will be awarded: ten $2,000 scholarships and one grand prize of $5,000.

Morse and his firm are partnering with Detroit Public Schools and the United Way to make this scholarship a reality.

By doing this, Morse hopes to accomplish two things: to give back to the community and promote safe driving through peer education.

"We're just trying to get that message across to wait until you're home," Morse said. "What's so urgent that it can't wait? Just because you get a buzz or a ding on your phone doesn't mean you need to check it right away or respond right away."

Michigan's texting-while-driving ban costs drivers $100 for the first offense and $200 for a second offense. But Morse believes that too often it's not enough of a deterrent.

"I think a better way to discourage (distracted driving) is peer-to-peer more so than a fine," he said.

The MORSE Code College Scholarship Contest challenges Detroit Public Schools juniors and seniors to create an audio, video, graphic or essay message on the dangers of distracted driving.

The scholarship is not GPA dependent and entries will be judged on the effectiveness of their message.

While promoting the contest in November, Morse visited Golightly Career and Technical Center in Detroit to highlight the scholarship and need to end distracted driving.

State Farm and DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital provided a driving simulator to demonstrate to students just how dangerous distracted driving can be. Students were encouraged to text while using the simulator and practice handling potentially dangerous emergency situations behind the wheel, such as distracted driving, inclement weather, diverting hazards, road rules, driving under the influence and reaction time.

Contest submissions are due today. Winners will be announced and notified on April 2.

Morse hopes the scholarship continues in the years to come.

"Hopefully if we get a good response and we get a lot of submissions, then we'll do it again next year and with some more scholarship money."

Published: Tue, Jan 31, 2012

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