- Associated Press - Monday, September 14, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. (AP) - A Springfield father is campaigning to keep teenagers off their phones while they are behind the wheel with a series of billboards around the city.

Bruce Berg, 61, began asking businesses to donate $500 per billboard three years ago, The Register-Guard in Eugene reported (https://bit.ly/1QbN1DE). This year he persuaded the Lane Transit District to display his anti-texting posters for no charge.

The longtime commercial photographer uses senior portraits of high school students and the words “PLZ JOIN US. DON’T TXT + DRV!” to remind other students to wait to send messages.

“Just to get the message out more,” Berg said. “Because I feel it’s not getting the attention it deserves (considering) the severity of the problem. When you text (and drive), you’re worse than a drunk driver with your ability to respond.”

Berg was inspired to champion the cause after he asked his daughter, a 2015 graduate of Springfield High, if she was taught about the dangers of texting and driving in a mandatory seminar about drinking and driving. His daughter said they mostly glanced over it.



Federal data shows that in 2013 more than 3,100 people were killed in crashes involving distracted drivers, which includes texting, talking on the phone, eating and reading. Of those incidents, teens represented 10 percent of distracted drivers.

“That’s a horrendous statistic,” Berg said. “I know how I’m tempted (to text while driving) and I see teens do it all the time.”

Berg has been able to get businesses to donate money for the billboards for the past two years, but support has gone down this year, he said. The billboards could come down as soon as Tuesday, when their one-month term is up.

“Even if I have to come up with (the money) all myself, I’m committed to doing it,” Berg said.

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Information from: The Register-Guard, https://www.registerguard.com

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