The horrors of texting documented in film


The campaigns to get people to stop watching their cellphones while they drive often seem like shoveling sand against the tide; nothing seems to be working to convince people there’s danger in it.

So AT&T, Verizon, Spring, and T-Mobile commissioned Werner Herzog, the German filmmaker, to produce a documentary, featuring four tragedies:

  • A paralyzed young man in Milwaukee, struck by a woman who was texting at the time she hit him after blowing through a four-way stop. Her text was “I’m on my way.”
  • A man in Indiana who killed three people in an Amish buggy because he was sending a text message. “I love you,” it said. He got a letter from the father of the three children he killed. “Keep looking up; God is always there,” it said.
  • A woman in Vermont who was struck while walking her dog. Her hospital bills are now over $1 million. The teenage girl who hit her had only $50,000 of liability insurance. She got 30 days in jail. She was also sentenced to community service, but she wouldn’t participate in the project to help prevent it from happening to someone else.
  • A man in Utah who started a chain-reaction accident that killed two people because he was texting and crossed over the center line of the highway. “I don’t remember what the text message said,” he said in the film. “That’s how important it was.” The other innocent victim: The man driving a pickup who hit the car with the victims.

The documentary was released this week. It has a side issue: The nature of forgiveness.