In the moment, checking that text message or changing the radio station might not seem like a big deal. Maybe you have done it countless times before. You can do it once more. Many drivers might share in this thought process. Unfortunately, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about nine people die every day in car accidents and about 1,000 suffer injuries because of distracted driving incidents just like the ones described above.
You may think that taking your eyes off the road is the only form of distraction. The truth is that distractions come in three forms:
Visual distractions occur when you take your eyes off the road for any reason. It could be to check a text message or to look at your passenger. Perhaps your kids are acting up in the backseat and you glance back to them instead. Cognitive distractions include those that take your mind off the road entirely. You may still be looking at the road ahead, but your mind is elsewhere. Those who drive after a serious emotional event are likely to have slower reaction time and more difficulty focusing on the road. Manual distractions are those that take your hands off the wheel. This may include talking on the phone, eating or changing channels on the radio.
When you are distracted, you are still covering a lot of distance. For instance, if you look away from the road for even five seconds, you can travel the length of an entire football field. A lot can happen in that length of time.