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In his documentaries, Werner Herzog has examined grizzly bears, plane crash survivors, cave paintings and death row inmates. For his latest project, the 70-year-old filmmaker is exploring the dangers of texting while driving in "From One Second to the Next," a 35-minute short film that emotionally recounts how lives have been forever changed by the issue.

"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."

Among the stories told are from a young man who, texting and driving, rear-ended an Amish buggy and killed three people. The impact of the crash sent the buggy hurtling 430 feet on the road. "I looked in the ditch, and there were bodies just laying there," Chandler Gerber recounted in the documentary. "It was silent."

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."

The film expands on the 30-second commercials that the director of such critically acclaimed films as "Aguirre: The Wrath of God" created for the "It Can Wait" campaign, an initiative launched by AT&T to raise awareness about the topic. Herzog, who has spoken out about the intrusion of marketing in creative mediums, doesn't mind the sponsorship.

"I see there's something going on in civilization which is coming with great vehemence at us."

"It's very easy to reconcile that," said Herzog. "This has nothing to do with consumerism or being part of advertising products. This whole campaign is rather dissuading you from excessive use of a product. It's a campaign. We're not trying to sell anything to you. We're not trying to sell a mobile phone to you. We're trying to raise awareness."

For his next project, the director of "Into the Abyss" is returning to death row for a follow-up to his "On Death Row" series, and he's still hoping to make a film about the life of Middle East pioneer Gertrude Bell starring Naomi Watts and Robert Pattinson titled "Queen of the Desert." He said coordinating all the actors' schedules has made it difficult.

Online: www.itcanwait.com

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wow. What a powerful message this film show! I don't understand why people just can't put their phones down until they get to where they are going. And to think that some people will still be doing it after they have watched this film. So sad!
      • 1 Year Ago
      I just don't get it. Exactly how very ignorant do you have to be to think that you can divert your attention away from something that needs your complete attention as much as propelling a 3,000-13,000 pound deadly weapon among living beings at speeds between 35 to 80 mph and beyond does? Young people, especially, who have had all these electronic gadgets in their lives since they were born actually believe themselves when they brag that they have the ability to multi-task. Yeah, we ALL do. That does NOT guarantee that anyone in the world can do it successfully, 100% of the time. But, for those in their forties and beyond to deliberately distract themselves is far beyond irresponsible. To act as though you are sitting in your recliner at home and allowing your brain to glaze over is inexcusable. Those of us over 60 can verify that it is possible to get happily and healthily through the day without being constantly "connected" to someone else. Nothing bad is going to happen if you put down the damn devices and pay attention to what you are doing!
      • 1 Year Ago
      humans are highly evolved animals thanks to gadgets.
        • 1 Year Ago
        highly evolved morons is more like it. nothing can wait anymore....to the point of being beyond ridiculous.
      • 1 Year Ago
      When I drive and text illegally in my city I always force myself to look up every 2 seconds to be aware of traffic conditions. I suspect some people don't look up for 5 or 6. A lot can happen and does in 5-6 seconds.
      • 1 Year Ago
      It's sounds stupid, but it's an addiction. Just like Pavlov's dogs - when they heard the bell they started salivating. When people hear their phone, they automatically reach for it whether they are in the middle of a conversation, in a store, exercising, driving, etc. Rude and dangerous.
      J's Damsel
      • 1 Year Ago
      How do so many people these days think they are so very important that they can't get along without a cell phone? People talk on them in every possible place people can be, appropriate or not. What makes it ok for those who text to take MY life in their hands; put MY life at risk? I have kids. I have loved ones. IT IS NOT YOUR RIGHT TO TAKE ME FROM THEM, OR TAKE THEM FROM ME.
      Your Lordship
      • 1 Year Ago
      Why are these people still free? They should be in prison.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Your Lordship
        Legislation banning stupidity has been tied up by marginal legislators who fear losing re-election.
      • 1 Year Ago
      I think I'd rather be on the road with drunks than texters. At least the drunks are trying to pay attention...
        • 1 Year Ago
        its sad to say but your comment is funny but also true....i would rather be on the road too with drunks , at least they're trying to pat attention.........ya have to admit that is funny
      • 1 Year Ago
      I don't care, if they are sorry or not...it's still murder and they should be in jail....the judicial system is to lienent and that's why this will continue to escalate....
      • 1 Year Ago
      He should have gotten the death penalty.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Excellent documentary. I wish it would be considered mandatory viewing prior to getting one's driver's license.
      People just don't care enough to stop this bad habbit, while on two memorable bike runs this weekend myself and others in the group noticed several drivers in their cage texting and we had police escorts, fact, just terriable the disregared they have. Like to see the charge upped to lose of license for 6 months if caught texting while driving.
        • 1 Year Ago
        I don't like the disregard that bikers have for the rules of the road. THE most rude and arrogant people are riding bikes on the highways and streets.
          MIKEY'S SCREEN
          • 1 Year Ago
          Another moron who doesn't know the laws for motorcycles speaks. What a disappointment!
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