Watch This Before Texting and Driving

September 6th, 2013 by Andrea Bennett

Filmmaker Werner Herzog’s public service announcement is an emotional exploration of the damage caused by texting while driving.

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The Responsibility Project

“I was once told that to be a good member of society,” a young man from Tremonton, Utah, says at the end of Werner Herzog’s new documentary “From One Second to the Next,” “you have to give back more than you take. I can never give back those two men’s lives, ever.”

Early one morning, in a driving rainstorm, he had been texting and distracted when his car clipped a Saturn with two scientists from Thiokol, a jet and rocket propulsion company based in Brigham City, inside. The hit sent them into oncoming traffic, where they were T-boned and killed by a blacksmith driving a pickup truck.

The documentary explores the collateral damage done by a distracted driver, through the accident’s survivors – one of the scientist’s daughters, who imagines her father in the universe; the blacksmith, who was unable to work any longer; and the driver, a 26-year-old man whose live is forever altered. Their story was just one of several segments in a half-hour long public service announcement by celebrated filmmaker Werner Herzog, hired by AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile to make a film about the risks of texting and driving. It is part of AT&T’s It Can Wait program.

Already in tears by this point in the PSA, I realized the full weight of the senselessness of texting and driving during this segment, filmed in the snowy northern Utah Mountains near where I grew up. This stretch of Highway 30 between Logan and Tremonton is remote, as highways go, and couldn’t have been that busy in the early morning hours when the accident happened. The driver, who now speaks to high school students about the dangers of distracted driving, cries on the side of that highway seven years later. He doesn’t even remember what he had been texting.

But you don’t need to recognize the scenery to be affected by the film. It also includes the sister of an 8-year-old boy in Milwaukee, now paralyzed and on life support, who was holding her brother’s hand when all of a sudden, he was taken right out of her grip. The woman who hit him while texting didn’t slow down. And the driver of a van in Bluffton, Ind., reads a loving letter from the Amish man whose wife and children were killed when he hit them after sending a text to his wife.

Herzog described to NPR’s David Greene that it made sense to him not to show “blood and gore an wrecked cars.” The movie instead shows “deep raw emotion – the kind of deep wounds that are in those who were victims of accidents and also in those who were the perpetrators. Their life has changed and they are suffering forever.”

According to the film, texting and driving causes more than 100,000 accidents each year – a figure that is steeply rising. Watch this movie with your family. If you even occasionally check a text from the driver’s seat, I promise you’ll think twice about it.

Have you seen the film? Share your thoughts here.

For more information about the dangers of texting and driving, and discounts on TeenSMART, Liberty Mutual Insurance’s online driving course for teens, visit the Teen Driving resource page.