From One Second to the Next

Movie review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
From One Second to the Next Movie Poster Image
Chilling tales hammer home dangers of texting and driving.
  • NR
  • 2013
  • 35 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

This documentary draws attention to the lethal nature of texting and driving without a hint of manufactured drama. Each story is as heartbreaking as it is effective, and the film's message leaves no question as to the seriousness of the subject matter. There are lots of tears shed, both from victims and from the perpetrators, but there's also an inspiring air of forgiveness and hope that comes from two of the stories.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Although the actions that brought them here weren't admirable, the two participants who caused fatal accidents because of texting have turned their experiences into a strong message for others through their involvement in this film. Both are painfully honest about how their lives have changed, how the accidents haunt them, and how devoted they are to using their experiences to influence others' habits. The legacies of the victims and their families are mixed; some show forgiveness, while others still struggle to move past their anger.


Survivors and witnesses describe the car accidents, including details of victims' injuries and deaths. One victim is paralyzed and uses a ventilator; another suffered brain injuries that affect her speech and balance. In some cases, police share photos of tangled car wreckage from the accident scenes, but none include images of the victims.


The film ends with a reminder for viewers to visit It Can Wait's website, sponsored by AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile, to pledge against texting and driving. Some brand names are visible on subjects' clothing, including Under Armour and Aeropostale.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that From One Second to the Next is an affecting short documentary about the potential consequences of texting and driving as told by the victims and perpetrators of four horrific car accidents resulting from texting. Their firsthand stories are haunting, the visual images gut-wrenching, and the eventual message irrevocable: this kind of distracted driving can –- and will -– kill. The documentary includes graphic descriptions of injuries and fatalities as well as images of wreckage (but not victims) from the accidents, all of which is held in comparison to the insignificance of the texts that played a role in the traumas. Produced in partnership with the It Can Wait initiative, the movie wraps up with a reminder to viewers to visit the campaign's website and pledge against texting and driving.

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What's the story?

FROM ONE SECOND TO THE NEXT is a short film that gives a voice to a handful of people whose lives have been changed by texting and driving. Directed by Werner Herzog and presented in conjunction with wireless providers AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile, the documentary compiles interviews with victims and perpetrators of four devastating accidents in which texting behind the wheel was a factor. For young Xzavier, a driver's distraction sentenced him to paralysis and life on a ventilator; for Debbie, it robbed her of her independence, her ability to communicate, and the right to work at a job she loved. Two of the incidents involved multiple fatalities, and in those cases, the perpetrators talk about the horrors of living with the guilt of what they did.

Is it any good?

These stories are painful to watch (have some tissues handy), but they drive home an essential message in a way no 30-second ad or two-dimensional billboard ever could. Texting and driving: We're bombarded with cautionary messages about the dangers every day, but do we really grasp the gravity of the issue? Particularly for teens, who were raised in our hyper-connected culture, the concept of a daily behavior like texting being dangerous is easily dismissed. Enter From One Second to the Next, a gripping tribute to not only the lethal risks texting behind the wheel poses but also to some of the victims it's already claimed, including, to some degree, the errant drivers.

Public service announcement aside, this relatively short documentary is a masterful example of filmmaking, which is why it's very difficult to shut it off or even turn away from screen prematurely. In the absence of background music or narrative, emotional accounts from victims and their families –- as well as responding officers and the perpetrators themselves –- build tension to a breaking point. No effort is made to doctor the content or fill in lengthy pauses in victims' accounts because it's just not necessary; these harrowing tales are more dramatic than any fictionalized version could be, and there's no avoiding the crucial message they drive home.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the prevalence of texting behind the wheel. How often do you see people on the road using their phones? How does it distract their concentration? Why is it such a temptation?

  • Some experts have likened it to drinking and driving. Do you think that's a fair assessment? Is this an issue that's more common in teen drivers, or does it cross the age divide?

  • Teens: Are you guilty of this behavior? Have you ever been a passenger in a car whose driver was texting? Were you aware of the risks? Could you speak up about it around your friends?

  • Use this film to start a dialogue with your teens about rights and responsibilities. Is driving a right or a responsibility? What responsibilities do you have as the operator of a vehicle? What repercussions do you face when you shirk on your duties? Make the pledge together to put away your phones behind the wheel.

Movie details

  • On DVD or streaming: August 9, 2013
  • Director: Werner Herzog
  • Studio: AT&T
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Run time: 35 minutes
  • MPAA rating: NR
  • Last updated: September 19, 2019

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