There's no real good excuse for texting and driving, but people seem to keep doing it anyway -- which is why esteemed documentarian Werner Herzog has directed a 35-minute documentary on texting-and-driving accident victims.
According to U.S. Department of Transportation statistics, 3,331 people were killed and 387,000 more injured in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2011. Officials estimate that at any given daylight moment, 660,000 drivers are using their phones or other devices while driving.
The video tells four heart-wrenching stories of Americans involved with texting-while-driving accidents.
The first segment begins with a young woman standing alongside a street holding out her hand, with her palm empty. “I had my brother in my hand, and all of a sudden, my hand was empty,” she says -- and the documentary then goes on to tell the story of Xzavier, a young boy paralyzed from the diaphragm down after a distracted driver ran through a stop sign and struck him along the side of the road.
Other segments tell the story of a young man who struck an Amish buggie, killing its three passengers; of a woman permanently disabled after being struck by a teenager; and of a young man who sideswiped a car, which then spun into an oncoming truck, killing two passengers in the resulting collision.
Through interviews with the people involved -- with perpetrators as well as victims -- each of the stories details the physical as well as the emotional toll of texting-and-driving crashes.
Herzog told the Associated Press that AT&T proposed the documentary; the company was expected to distribute the film to 40,000 high schools as part of the It Can Wait project website, which includes pledges not to text and drive.
The film was also sponsored by Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile and Sprint.
"I knew I could do it because it has to do with catastrophic events invading a family," Herzog told the AP. "In one second, entire lives are either wiped out or changed forever. That kind of emotional resonance is something that I knew I could cover."
He added, "There's a completely new culture out there. I'm not a participant of texting and driving — or texting at all — but I see there's something going on in civilization which is coming with great vehemence at us."
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