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Laurie Briggs

Important Film for High School Students — The Impact of Distracted Driving is All Too Real

» Written by // August 20, 2013 // ,

In the 4.5 seconds it takes to read a text while behind the wheel, you can cover the length of a football field. That’s what happened to a young father driving a van on his way to work. In that short period of time, he ran into an Amish family traveling in a buggy killing three, including the youngest family member, a three-year-old child.

In a nationwide effort to make an impact on teens who text, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint will distribute a 35-minute documentary to more than 40,000 high schools.

The impactful message was created by German filmmaker, Werner Herzog. The film, “From One Second to the Next,” asks victims about their texting behavior before the accident. The young man was talking to his wife and says he thinks he was reading a text at the time of the accident. The next thing he remembers were bodies lying in a ditch and no one moving. He says for the rest of his life he will wish he could take back that moment.

In another segment an 11-year-old was holding his sister’s hand when he was hit by a texting driver in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is paralyzed from the neck down. Another woman had her neck broken and the rest of her body broken when a texting teenager hit her. Her dog was killed when he took the full force of the accident.

The woman used to have an executive job with travel around the world. Now she can’t leave the back yard. Her hospital bills amounted to over one million. The teenage girl’s insurance covered $50,000. The teenager received a community service sentence for causing the crash.

There were an estimated 200,000 car crashes in 2011 that involved texting. A leading cause of death for teenage drivers is motor vehicle crashes and texting while driving raising the risk of leading to an accident by 23 times. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood calls it a “national epidemic” and texting while driving is considered more dangerous than drunk driving.

A study finds that 43 percent of teenagers haven’t received the message about texting while driving. The study was conducted at Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York and presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting. The researchers looked at data on 7,833 high school students gathered for the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Among the findings, males were more likely to text than females. The older the teen, the more texting. Among the findings, almost half of the participants were 17 and over half were 18-years-old.

The majority of teens say it is not uncommon among their friends to text and drive.

Laws that prohibit texting while driving seemed to have a slight impact in the number doing this high-risk behavior.

The Herzog film follows some videotaped spots that were produced by AT&T which are haunting in their message. Called It Can Wait the videotaped segments also carry the message of the last message the teen sent or received before their accident. In many cases, the text screen was the last thing sent before a fatal accident.

Whatever the message, it can truly wait.

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