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Wireless providers seeking 'Don't text and drive' pledges

A woman tries the texting and driving simulator. (KTAR Photo/Bob McClay)

PHOENIX -- Arizonans were asked to take a pledge on Thursday during a nationwide campaign designed to stamp out texting and driving.

AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile and more than 200 other organizations have joined a movement called "It Can Wait," which is asking everyone to pledge not to text while driving.

Arizona Diamondbacks fans heading into Chase Field stopped by the "It Can Wait" exhibit Thursday. They were able to get an autograph from former Diamondback Luis Gonzalez, then sit at a simulator to see how they would do if texting while driving. When I tried it, I received a text message and looked at the cellphone, then immediately crashed into another car.

But the consequence of texting and driving is no simulations for Basha High School teacher Amy Keifer Barard. A year ago, she was hit by a driver who was texting and suffered three skull fractures. She had to re-learn how to walk, talk and eat. Doctors said she will feel effects from the injuries for the rest of her life.

"My life is changed forever," she said. "Was his text message so important that he couldn't wait? I don't know that his text message changed the life of anyone that he sent it to, but it changed mine forever."

It bothers her that the man has never apologized for what he did.

According to the National Safety Council, there are more than 100,000 traffic accidents nationwide each year that involve someone who is texting while driving.

There are several ways to take the pledge. One is to text "ICWAZ" to 464-329. You can also pledge online at he first 200 people to pledge get a free "It Can Wait" t-shirt.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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