Sending a Text Takes Your Eyes Off the Road for About 5 Seconds

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Each day in the United States, approximately 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.

Distracted driving is driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from driving. Distracted driving can increase the chance of a motor vehicle crash.

What are the types of distraction?

There are three main types of distraction:

  • Visual: taking your eyes off the road
  • Manual: taking your hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving

Distracted driving activities

Anything that takes your attention away from driving can be a distraction. Sending a text message, talking on a cell phone, using a navigation system, and eating while driving are a few examples of distracted driving. Any of these distractions can endanger the driver and others.

Texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction. Sending or reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for about 5 seconds, long enough to cover a football field while driving at 55 mph.

Who is most at risk?

Young adult and teen drivers

  • Drivers under the age of 20 have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes.
  • CDC’s national Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) monitors health-risk behaviors among high school students, including sending texts while driving. Recent YRBSS findings include:
    • In 2015, 42% of high school students who drove in the past 30 days reported sending a text or email while driving.
    • Students who reported frequent texting while driving were:
      • Less likely to wear a seatbelt.
      • More likely to ride with a driver who had been drinking.
      • More likely to drink and drive.

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