Meanwhile, Back in Wisconsin: Milwaukee Boy and His Mother Featured in Famed Auteur Werner Herzog’s 30-Minute Anti-Texting While Driving Documentary
And this is the film:
This is not just about survivors and victims. This is also about those who committed vehicular murder when they kept on texting when their attention should have been on the action on the street. And the film travels to Wisconsin, to Indiana, to Vermont, to Utah. The human wreckage is not just astounding. It is infuriating, because it all could have been avoided.
This is nothing like the cautionary but sensational driver’s education films that I saw as a teenager that were focused on the dangers of joyriding at top speeds, and of drinking and driving, showing a lot of made-up blood and gore. So much gore, I remember, that not a few girls and boys went to the back of the room, unable to watch anymore. It’s a bit more sophisticated than that. These are real people and not actors. The blood has been cleaned up, but the carnage remains.
The documentary film begins with Xzavier Davis-Bilbo’s mother and chief caregiver, Valetta Bradford of Milwaukee. “X” as he calls himself was five in 2010. A very active little boy who loved the Packers, X is now paralyzed and in a mobile wheelchair because the woman who was texting while driving ran a four-way stop sign and kept on going, literally taking the boy from the hand of his older sister Aurie while they were going to school. He is now eight years old, dependent for life on his family and ultimately the state.
Valetta Bradford had already told part of her story in a nearly four-minute public service announcement for the Department of Transportation in 2011. It is not the same narrative that she gave to Herzog, and it adds more information to what happened the day of the accident. The name of the film is Faces of Distracted Driving.
I recall when people began talking on their cell phones while driving in California. Law enforcement began to see that drivers getting carried away on the cell phones were taking their attentions away from the road and causing accidents that resulted in injuries and deaths. They were warning, don’t talk and drive. Even in PSAs. Guess what? People still talk and drive. I see them while awaiting the bus, driving and talking as if they were masters of the universe. They don’t care; they think that they are slick. And it is not just young people. It’s almost as if the drivers are willing the inevitable, the last throw of the dice. They don’t realize until the end that they are riding in a nearly two-ton murder weapon that could take their lives and the lives of those that it hits at 35-70 mph.
But I got the message that it wasn’t safe to talk and drive. I remember moving from Saratoga Springs to New York City alone, and having someone call me almost every half hour wondering where I was on the highway. I had to get off the road every time to pick up the cell phone because I refused to talk and drive. I just told him, next time you call, I won’t answer because you know I am driving, and when you call, I have to get off the road and talk to you. And when you do that, you are slowing me up and making me late. So stop calling me!
He finally got the message. Apparently, only a few has gotten the message, that you can wait to talk. That you can wait to text.
Babies were not born with a cell phone in their hands. However, they can be taught what is right and what is wrong. And texting, as well as talking while driving, is wrong.
So what was Werner Herzog‘s motivation to make this film aimed school age children and young adults, and ultimately their parents and their grown-up friends? He has previously spoken out against turning creative endeavors into grist for the marketing mill, so why allow AT&T, a known phone merchandiser, to bankroll him?
“I knew I could do it because it has to do with catastrophic events invading a family,” said Herzog, who has alternated between fiction (“Rescue Dawn“) and non-fiction (“Grizzly Man“) throughout his career. “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.“
The documentary, which tells the stories of both victims and perpetrators, will be available to watch Thursday at ItCanWait.com and distributed by AT&T to more than 40,000 high schools, as well as hundreds of safety organizations and government agencies.
What inspired the legendary filmmaker to direct what’s essentially a public-service announcement?
“It always depends on the project itself,” said the German-born filmmaker. “What AT&T proposed immediately clicked and connected inside of me. 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.”
Herzog currently resides in Los Angeles with his third wife, Lena, so he’s definitely viewing all this with some concern.
I think that I know what Herzog is saying: it is a lack of respect for self, for each other, for rules, for common sense and critical thinking, and for customs that in turn respect the human existence, in whatever color or gender. You cannot do whatever you want to do. You may run the risk of hurting and killing others as well as yourself. And yet some people continue to do this kind of thing in the face of all warnings as as if it demands more of them than they can actually give, when it really does not require that much to care about someone’s safety, even their own.
According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, “In 2011, 3,331 people in the country were killed and 386,000 people were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.”
Don’t talk and drive. Don’t text and drive.