Don’t Text and Drive: It can wait

Dr. Weeks’ Comment: 100,000 unnecessary and stupid deaths a year and rising from texting.   Share with your kids, your loved ones, your neighbor and everyone!  (and walk and bicycle FACING traffic).

August 14, 2013

Werner Herzog Says: Don’t Text and Drive



Werner Herzog, the prolific German filmmaker behind “Fitzcarraldo,” “Rescue Dawn” and “Cave of Forgotten Dreams,” has directed a 35 minute documentary on the perils of texting while driving. America’s four largest wireless carriers financed the film, “From One Second to the Next,” and released it online last week. AT&T will take the lead in distributing it to more than 40,000 high schools. Maddening and moving, it may be the first example of a new genre: the arthouse public service announcement.

Mr. Herzog was an unlikely choice for the project, but he was an inspired one. “From One Second to the Next” describes four accidents ”” two of them fatal, all of them preventable. It has the look and feel of Mr. Herzog’s other documentaries, with his subjects alternating between explaining what happened and posing artfully, even a little awkwardly, as if in a still photograph.

In some cases, Mr. Herzog was able to discover what the driver was texting just before the collision. Valetta Bradford, the mother of a now 8-year-old boy struck and paralyzed three years ago while crossing the street, says: “I’m told that the text was ”˜I’m on my way.’ ”

Chandler Gerber sped his van into a horse and buggy, killing three members of an Amish family in 2012 ”” a 17-year-old boy, a 5-year-old girl, and a 3-year-old boy. The last message he sent was “I love you.”

Reggie Shaw, who caused a 2006 crash that killed two scientists, confesses, “I don’t remember what the message said. That’s how important it was.” Mr. Gerber and Mr. Shaw both visit the scenes of their crimes; Mr. Gerber kneels in prayer, and Mr. Shaw sits and weeps.

While Mr. Herzog’s films are often ambiguous in nature, without a clear-cut editorial point, his message in this documentary is absolutely apparent. “Don’t ever text and drive.” Mr. Gerber says, “You get one chance, and you live with the choices you make.”

The National Safety Council estimated that roughly 200,000 crashes in 2011 involved texting; and an AT&T Wireless survey found that 75 percent of teenagers say texting while driving is “common” among their friends. Whether or not Mr. Herzog’s film can actually reduce those figures, the project sets a high standard for how corporations can educate the public.


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