A tragic story from Northern Utah is part of one of the most brutally effective public-service announcements ever, by one of the world's most celebrated nonfiction filmmakers.
Over the weekend, a 35-minute short film financed by several mobile-service providers began circulating the Internet, warning about the dangers of texting while driving. But unlike many such public-service messages, From One Second to the Next (below), has a major filmmaker behind it: Werner Herzog, the director of documentaries, like Grizzly Man, Encounters at the End of the World and Into the Abyss. And this one features a significant Utah connection.
Among the four stories told in From One Second to the Next is that of Reggie Shaw, who was 19 years old when his distracted driving while texting led to an accident that killed two men outside of Logan, Utah, in Sept. 2006. That incident -- and Shaw's subsequent work as a vocal advocate against the very activity that led to the accident -- were significant factors behind the 2009 anti-texting law enacted by the Utah legislature.
Shaw's story -- just like the other three stories included in From One Second to the Next (Vermont victim Debbie Drewniak and her sister are pictured) -- is both straightforward and wrenchingly emotional. Herzog gives time both to victims and to those like Shaw who caused accidents, conveying the staggering cost to so many lives of a thoughtless moment. It's lump-in-the-throat stuff, not because Herzog is straining to put that lump there but because simple human stories have a capacity to change behavior in a way statistics can't. And it's hard to imagine that spending a half-hour with these remarkable stories will not end up saving lives.