August 20, 2013

Texting while driving is the focus of recent Herzog documentary

Reggie Shaw, who is in the Herzog documentary, killed two men when driving and texting. Now, Shaw publicly speaks to groups and organizations about the serious dangers of texting and driving. (Credit: ShareATT / YouTube)

With Virginia recently designating it a primary offense, texting while driving has recently come into the spotlight.  Texting while driving makes drivers 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash, according to a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.  The study found the average time your eyes are off the road while texting is five seconds. When traveling at 55miles per hour, five seconds is enough time to cover the length of a football field.

Filmmaker Werner Herzog recently released a 35-minute documentary on YouTube called “From One Second to the Next” that examines the serious dangers associated with texting while driving.  The documentary, which has already garnered nearly 2 million views, will be shown in 40,000 high schools this fall.

“It’s a deep raw emotion — the kind of deep wounds that are in those who were victims of accidents and also in those who were the perpetrators. Their life has changed and they are suffering forever,” Herzog told NPR.  “Kids sit around but they don’t talk. They’re all texting. And accidents have happened at a staggering rate. I mean, it’s skyrocketing. The statistics are incredible.”

AT&T, which helped sponsor the Herzog documentary, has rolled out a national advertising campaign called “It Can Wait” that highlights the consequences of texting while driving.  AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson said a recent survey showed that 49% of business commuters admitted to texting while driving.

Throughout the United States, injury victims have won multi-million dollar actions against employers for injuries caused by an employee’s distracted driving because of cell phone use.  The annual cost of car wrecks caused by cell phone use is a staggering $43 billion, according to the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis Study.

In 2010, Car and Driver magazine conducted an experiment that found texting while driving had a greater negative safety impact than drunk driving. While legally drunk, the stopping distance from 70 mph increased by 4 feet while reading an e-mail added 36 feet.  Sending a text message added a stunning 70 feet to the stopping distance.

Several companies have recently released smartphone apps that allow users’ phones to autorespond to text messages while driving.  Some of the more popular apps include EveryoneTexts, Auto SMS, and Drive Safe.ly.  These apps automatically reply to received text messages to let the sender know the message recipient is driving and cannot reply to the message immediately.

Composing, sending, and reading text messages or browsing the Web on a cell phone while driving is negligent activity.  At The Cochran Firm DC, we represent victims and families who have been impacted by negligent drivers who text while driving.  Texting can wait.  DC, Maryland, and Virginia area residents should heed these serious warnings and leave text messaging for times they aren’t on the road.  We support all efforts to keep the public safer and less at risk for catastrophic injury.