By Michael Rosenfield, WBZ-TV New Hampshire Bureau Chief

AMHERST, NH (CBS) – In the wake of the tragic Christmas week deaths of John Bachman and Katie Hamilton, in which investigators say it appears both were killed by distracted drivers, the Amherst, New Hampshire Fire Department has started a new online pledge.

“It really goes beyond texting because it’s just about any kind of distracted driving could have this impact,” said Amherst Fire Lt. Chris Buchanan. “A simple message could take a life, and that’s kind of what we learned last week.”

The firefighters take it personally.

John Bachman was a former town fire chief.

He was killed last week while checking his mailbox.

Police say it looks 20-year-old Travis Hobbs was texting or checking his phone when he slammed into the 71-year-old.

“So we thought it would probably be the appropriate thing for our fire department to take a pledge and agree not to text and drive, and set the example,” said Amherst Fire Chief Mark Boynton.

The pledge was meant for just the firefighters, but once it was posted online, word spread.

So far more than 900 people have signed on, some as far away as Russia and Australia.

That might be the only bright spot for John Bachman’s family, still stunned by the sudden loss, and hoping others might learn from the senseless accident.

“Just simple actions that don’t seem like they’re any harm at the time could be very damaging,” said Pam McKinney, John Bachman’s daughter. “There’s many, many people on both sides that have been affected deeply.”

In Amherst, police say this year there have been 114 accidents which had driver distraction or inattention as a contributing factor. The average has been 113 each year for the last six years.

In an email to WBZ-TV, Amherst Police Chief Mark Reams said, “We as parents need to also set an example for our children while driving, and make every effort to diminish the perceived importance of these instant communications…that phone call, e-mail, or text message can always wait. Reinforcing appropriate driving behavior from a young age can bring us at least one step closer toward building a different culture – one that is focused more on safety and less on immediate gratification.”

To sign the pledge, click here.


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