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Will texters be scared straight?

By Jay MacDonald · Bankrate.com
Friday, August 16, 2013
Posted: 6 am ET

Back in the days of disco, certain high school students across the land were granted a pause from their studies to watch "Scared Straight!" -- a hard-hitting, profanity-laced documentary narrated by Peter Falk of "Columbo" fame. Filmed at New Jersey's Rahway State Prison, "Scared Straight" amounted to a three-hour sensory assault, as actual prison inmates unloaded on a group of juvenile delinquents in the hope of scaring them away from a life of crime.

Last week, AT&T added a similar gut-wrenching documentary called "From One Second to the Next" to its YouTube channel in support of the telecom company's "It Can Wait" campaign against texting while driving.

Acclaimed director's take on texting

The 35-minute film by Oscar-nominated German director Werner Herzog ("Aguirre, the Wrath of God," "Cave of Forgotten Dreams") features heartbreaking interviews with the families of victims as well as survivors of traffic accidents caused by texting while driving.

Herzog is no stranger to dark content. He similarly interviewed death row inmates for his 2011 documentary "Into the Abyss," and his 2005 documentary "Grizzly Man" explored the life and death of bear enthusiast Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend, who were both killed and eaten by bears in 2003.

"I knew I could do it because it has to do with catastrophic events invading a family," Herzog told The Associated Press. "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."

Film takes off

"From One Second to the Next" has been an instant hit, drawing more than a million online viewers in its first five days. AT&T plans to send links to the film to more than 40,000 schools across North America in the coming weeks, as well as to safety organizations and government agencies.

Will "From One Second to the Next" scare teens straight? Herzog certainly hopes so.

"There's a completely new culture out there," he says. "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."

The scourge of texting and driving

"Great vehemence" indeed. It's estimated that texting while driving contributes to more than 100,000 accidents and kills more than 3,000 teens each year. That's the equivalent of wiping the entire human population of Proctor, Minn., or Brightwaters, N.Y., or San Saba, Texas, off the map every 12 months.

The entertainment media have already dubbed this summer movie season "The Year of the Flop," based on a bevy of blockbusters that fizzled rather than sizzled on screen and at the box office.

So forget the dreck at the multiplex. If you care about your kids, your fellow drivers and your auto insurance rates, log on and watch the scariest movie of the summer: "From One Second to the Next."

Follow me on Twitter: @omnisaurus

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Jay MacDonald is a Bankrate contributing editor and co-author of "Future Millionaires' Guidebook," an e-book by Bankrate editors and reporters.

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8 Comments
Carol Waterson
August 26, 2013 at 10:21 am

Great post, Jay!

Those numbers are astounding! 100,000 accidents and more than 3,000 deaths? Clearly, people aren't taking the no-texting-while-driving laws seriously. I remember when 'Scared Straight' came out; it truly did have a positive impact on the youth. Hopefully 'From One Second to the Next' will have the same affect. These distracted driving accidents can definitely be avoiding. ...Put the phone down!

Kevin Brown
August 17, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Why do we have to scare the hell out of kids to get them to do something, why don't we start by being parents and raising our kids to do as they are asked. the government should not have to do the parents job, doesn't the government already have their noses in enough places it does not belong?? parents need to control their own kids! we need to work on teaching our kids to think for themselves and make better choices, people its our job, your job, not the governments job!!!!
STEP UP BE THE PARENT

scott fourhman
August 17, 2013 at 2:40 pm

i saw the film and I was floored by it It will grab you by the throat and get your attention It also will make sick and want to cry

bernice young
August 17, 2013 at 2:16 pm

I think using the phone while driving is asking for trouble. The most unpredictable and bad drivers seem to have a phone attached to their ear!!1 I wish every state would outlaw the use of phones while driving. Why not find a spot and pull over for a few minutes if the call is that important!!!

Harley Gal
August 17, 2013 at 12:21 pm

If the government is going to do anything about texting & driving or computer hacking... Many more lives will be lost in auto accidents due to texting & driving & many more computer hackers will destroy people's lives/finances before the government will get involved & create laws to punish with severe fines & serious jail time to prevent these things from happening. For example, if an intersection in a city has numerous accidents, due to no red light, I heard there must be a certain number of fatalities (deaths) at this intersection before a red light will be installed. Many lives must be lost, to prove a red light is necessary!!! How crazy is this!!!

SAM SALIBA
August 17, 2013 at 10:35 am

TEXTING IS ABSOLUTE NON-SENSE AT BEST! USING THE PHONE IS...
1. IS INFINITELY EASIER.
2. PROVIDES INSTANT TWO-WAY COMMUNICATION.
3. ENABLES YOU TO HEAR THE TONE OF THE PERSON TO WHOM YOU ARE TALKING.
4. GIVES ABILITY TO ANSWER QUESTIONS IMMEDIATELY.

AND THERE ARE MANY MORE, MOST IMPORTANTLY OF WHICH IS THE FACT THAT YOU ARE SAVING LIVES!!!!!

Velda
August 17, 2013 at 9:47 am

Texting is ridiculous. Now you have the option to "Talk you Texts" WTH...? If you're going do that then just call. You can't rely that people of all ages will use good judgement and not text while driving so here are three options.
Do away with it and make it illegal for phone companies to offer it as a feature.
If you have an accident while texting then sue the phone companies or hold them just as lible. Or with today's technology why not have a GPS that can tell you are moving and automtically turn that feature off when driving.
I have witness n accident wih an adult texting and driving. Saw he was texting wih my own eyes when he plowed into the back of a truck at a red light in the lne to my right. All the quick reflexes in the wrold isn't going to stop a 2000lb vehicle in time with only 5 feet of room and absolutely yu will ot walk away without damage.

slimjim09
August 17, 2013 at 6:58 am

Texting & driving is like drinking & driving. If you want to stop it, put some severe penalties in place. Make the new laws as bad or worse thank DUI, then you will see this decline & stop. Trouble with America is they really don't have good laws in place to protect us. Computer scamming & hacking go on all the time & they do nothing. That's why YOU have to protect your own finances the best way you can. If a nation wide law came out that if you are caught hacking / scamming, you would face no less than 20 years in prison. Then this junk would stop. But its obvious it is not important enough to do something about it.

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