By Ann Rowland
Former Amherst (New Hampshire) Fire Chief John Bachman, 71, was hit and killed by a car while out getting his mail on December 23. The driver left the scene, however, he later turned himself in to police. The 20 year old has been charged with negligent homicide and police say that he has admitted to texting and driving and thought that he had hit a snow bank.
The following day, Christmas Eve, a 31 year old Brookline (New Hampshire) mother, was killed in another car accident where it appears the other driver who was responsible for the accident was distracted. Katie Hamilton’s father is a volunteer firefighter with the Brookline Fire Department and was one of the first responders on the scene of his daughter’s deadly accident. Both of these families have to cope with the sudden and senseless deaths of their loved ones due to distracted drivers.
In response to these tragedies, firefighters with the Amherst Fire Department have started a “No Distracted Driving” pledge campaign to raise awareness of this problem. “We’re all aware that texting and driving is a problem but Chief Bachman’s death has brought it to the forefront,” Amherst Fire Chief Mark Boynton told the Union Leader.
“We had the idea of asking our members of the Fire Department to take a pledge to not text and drive”, Chief Boynton told WMUR New Hampshire. “We realized that it’s pretty common, that probably everyone does. So we wanted to make a commitment to not text and drive ourselves to set the example for everybody.”
Amherst Fire Department Lt. Chris Buchanan said that a car can travel 240 ft in the 3 seconds it might take a drive to look down at their phone to send a text message. “That’s pretty dangerous”, Buchanan told WMUR.
Firefighter Sean Gaffney hopes that by signing the pledge and encouraging others to do so that their department can lead by example. “Cell phones cause a major distraction for people driving out on the streets”, Gaffney told WMUR.
The campaign has turned into a worldwide event with people from around the world taking the pledge. If you would like more information or to take the pledge, click here.