I was sent a copy of a review from The New York Times accompanied by a link for a new documentary from Werner Herzog the German filmmaker. Herzog, along with Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Wim Wenders, was said to be one of the leading lights of the New German Cinema and is probably best known for feature films that include Aquirre, The Wrath of God (1972), The Enigma of Kasper Hauser (1974), Fitzcarraldo (1982) Rescue Dawn (2007) and the unfortunate remake of The Bad Lieutenant (2009). Although he has also made many documentaries this latest is only 35 minutes long and is seen as a wee bit of a departure for the man that Francois Truffaut called ‘the most important film director alive’
This most recent piece of work, From One Second to the Next (2013), released on line, demonstrates the perils of texting on a mobile phone while driving. Financed by four of America’s largest wireless carriers with the intention of being distributed to over 40,000 high schools in the US. Described by The New York Times as an ‘art-house public service announcement’ it forms part of AT&T’s It Can Wait campaign urging young people to put their mobiles away while driving and that no text message, e-mail, website or video is worth the risk of endangering your own life or the lives of others while driving.
This poignantly emotional project tells the true-life stories of four accidents caused by this popular communication method, each one told by the people involved. Valetta Bradford the mother of Xzavier relates the first story called The X Man, about a sporty and active eight years old who was hit by a vehicle 3 years ago while crossing the street with his sister and left paralysed. The driver of the car was speeding in a school zone and texting ‘I’m on my way’
The second story A Letter from Martin is told by Chandler Gerber who was sending a text to his wife which said ‘I love you’ when he crashed into an Amish horse and buggy killing a 17 year old boy, a 5 year old girl and a 3 year old boy. The father sent a letter to Gerber forgiving him for killing his children. What Gerber really wants is to be able to turn the clock back.
Debbie was an active and outgoing woman who had a good job that involved travelling the world, before taking her dog for a walk one morning when she was hit by a car being driven by a teenage girl. The dog took the full force of the blow and was killed while Debbie is now completely dependant on her family. Her sight is not good; she has no memory because her brain was damaged along with her neck and many other parts of her body. In Our Sister Debbie we find out the hospital bills amounted to over 1million dollars which the young girls
Liability insurance only paid out 50,000 dollars. Although Debbie life has been damaged forever the girl got 30 days in prison and some community service.
In the final part of the documentary, Reaching for the Stars, we find out that Reggie Shaw could not remember the massage he was texting when he caused a crash in 2006 that killed two scientists and ruined another driver’s life by loosing him his livelihood. Shaw crossed the centre line and clipped a car that span out of control and was hit side on by a truck. We see some very graphic pictures of the vehicles involved and find out that the accident affected not only the victim’s families but also Reggie Shaw he has never got over this terrible catastrophe. He has spent the last 7 years devoting his life to speaking publically about the dangers of texting and driving.
Its an honest endeavour by Herzog to make a film with the sole aim of warning drivers not to text whilst driving and informs us that there are over 100,000 accidents each year involving drivers who are texting and that the numbers are climbing.
The New York Times article concludes by telling us that ‘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’. I have placed a link to You Tube so that you can watch this documentary, but I warn you its very moving and may in fact bring a tear to your eye.