Band Together

Documentaries expose heartbreak caused by texting and driving

CREATED Aug 30, 2013 - UPDATED: Sep 3, 2013

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MILWAUKEE - In 2011, at least 23 percent of all car crashes in the United States involved cell phones. Here in Wisconsin it is illegal to text while behind the wheel. So TODAY'S TMJ4 is taking a pledge to stop texting and driving, and we want you, our viewers, to join in. The campaign is called "Band Together". The hope is to prevent crashes caused by texting and driving. Tonight, we're sharing the stories of two families who know the dangers all too well.

Sign the pledge to Band Together to stop texting and driving

Their lives were changed forever because of texting and driving. Now these two families are on a crusade to help save lives. World-renowned filmmaker Werner Herzog and AT&T recently partnered with a Milwaukee family to tell the story of the dangers of texting and driving. The documentary is called "From One Second to the Next" and it already has almost 100,000 hits on YouTube.

Xzavier is now 8. His family calls him the mighty "X." His mother, Valetta Bradford, couldn't be happier with the story about her son. "I am extremely proud of it, Werner did such a beautiful job." In October 2010, 5-year-old Xzavier was hit by a young woman who was texting and driving. His mom remembers it like it was yesterday, "all of a sudden Arie runs in the house, 'Mom Mom Mom, X got hit by a car.'"

Xzavier is now paralyzed from the diaphragm down. He loves to play video games, and he means the world to his mama. "The world and past the stars. Past the stars," Valetta says. But the day to day is difficult and Valetta spends most of her time taking care of him. "Every time I have to change a trach, every time I have to move him or re-position him, something new is in my head of, you know, how much dignity will he have if he makes it to manhood and I have to do this?"

From the documentary, to local outreach initiatives, Valetta has made it her mission to stop others from texting and driving. "I can't even bear the thought of this happening to another child, I can't."

Another documentary called "The Last Text" tells the story of Mariah. an 18-year-old girl from Arkansas killed in a crash while texting and driving in 2009.

Mariah's mother, Merry Dye, remembers what happened that day, "got this call, you need to call Mariah's phone, there's been an accident." Merry remembers how much her daughter loved to text. "She would be sitting at the dinner table, and she would just delay a half second answer."

But on that tragic day all it took was typing one letter for Mariah to drive off the road. "When you're a parent and you lose a child, that's a hole that's never filled. You can kinda find a passion to kind of keep you going," Merry shares. And for Merry, that passion has been getting out and doing talks in classrooms around the country warning about the dangers of texting and driving. "We have to make this as socially unacceptable as drinking and driving."

Those odds are scary. A person is 23-times more likely to get into an accident while texting and driving, making it even more dangerous than drunk driving. "There's all sorts of statistics, but at the end of the day, there's really no text worth dying for," says Scott Vandersanden with AT&T Wisconsin.

It's a lesson these two mothers know all too well. Now they hope others finally get the message. "It's a game of Russian roulette. You know, the odds will catch up with you eventually," Merry points out.

Valetta adds, "If it's that serious and you know it's that serious you should have done the text before you left wherever you were, but if it's that important pull onto the side of the road."

You can watch both of those documentaries online. As we mentioned, TODAY'S TMJ4 is taking part in a campaign called "Band Together." We are using thumb bands as a symbol to keep your thumb off your phone and your eyes on the road. You can go on our Facebook page and take the pledge not to text and drive.