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New county effort to prevent distracted driving

Posted at 7:59 PM, Oct 07, 2016
and last updated 2019-01-31 14:19:01-05
TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) -- Drivers who pass by the intersection of La Cholla and Orange Grove may only get a glimpse of the memorial for Dan Wilson.
 
But his memory is something his mom Karen always carries with her.
 
"After my son was killed I was looking for ways to heal my grief, which I found out there is no way to heal your grief," Karen Wilson said. "You can get better at dealing with it, but you never heal."
 
In September of 2015 Karen's son Dan was riding his bike on the Northwest side when he was struck and killed by a driver. Looking for ways to heal, she reached out to the founder of LOOK! Save A Life
 
Brendan Lyons, the founder of the Southern Arizona chapter, is a former firefighter who nearly died after a serious cycling crash. Lyons and his girlfriend were hit from behind by a car going 45 miles per hour.
 
"Whether you're on the receiving end or the motorist that's distracted, just momentarily, it doesn't happen to you, until it does happen to you," Lyons said. "And then it could be too late."
 
On Friday the non-profit released new PSAs with the help of local law enforcement including Pima County Sheriff Chris Nanos, Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus, and Oro Valley Police Chief Daniel Sharp. The ads remind people to never drive distracted, and by Arizona law motorists must give cyclists at least three feet of space when passing. 
 
Chief Magnus says Tucson is on track to having an above average year for bicycle and car collisions.
 
"Too many of us try to combine texting or otherwise handle our cell phones while driving," Magnus said. "We all know it’s dangerous and most of us know it’s against the law, but we tend to believe we can successfully multi-task or look down for just that couple of seconds without harming ourselves or others.” 
 
According to the non-profit, the average distraction while driving is between 3 and 5 seconds. When driving 45 to 55 miles per hour, "that is the equivalent to driving the length of a football field, blindfolded," the organization said in a news release.
 
Kerry Fuller was struck by a distracted driver in February, but is still recovering from her injuries. An avid cyclist, she would ride her bike up to 5 times a week. The former Tucson Police officer says she was hit head on by a woman who was making a left turn on Old Ina Road.
 
"All I saw in front of me was the grill of a red SUV," Fuller said. "And I remember thinking, 'that can't be there.' That's all I had time to think was that can't be there. And then I woke up in the E.R."
 
Fuller shattered both of her legs, including her knees, and her hand. She still hasn't fully recovered and will likely need more surgery.
 
Fuller likes sharing her story so she can educate the public. Not only was her life impacted, Fuller says the woman who hit her has to live with it too.
 
"if you're doing something else while you're driving, your brain will make things disappear in front of you and that's how come they don't see the cyclist before they hit them," Fuller said.
 
Meanwhile, Karen Wilson says not a day goes by that she doesn't cry and miss her son. With the help of grief counselors, she's learned to live with the good memories.
 
"Daniel had two little girls, Libbie and Clementine, who are the joy of my life and they don't have a daddy anymore," Wilson said. "And he was the best daddy I ever met."