Distracted driving

Driving simulator at QHS / Photo by: Joe Murano

80 percent of all traffic crashes and 65 percent of near crashes involve some type of distraction.

You hear a lot about how bad it is to text and drive.

Some states, including Illinois, have laws that forbid it in some fashion.

The University of Utah says using a cell phone while driving delays a driver's reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent.

KHQA's Chad Douglas wanted to put that to the test.

So, we're at the Quincy High School Driver's Ed Simulation Lab. We're going to show you how dangerous distracted driving can be. I'm going to sit in one of the simulators and drive it normally. Then I'll drive the road course with Fatal Vision Goggles on which simulate a blood alcohol level of .17 to .20, more than twice the legal limit in Illinois. Then, I'll drive the course while texting.

This is how a simulator works. The driver sits at a station like this, which has a mock-up of the interior of a car. You look ahead at the screen which shows many scenarios you could face while behind the wheel. Then a computer measures your reaction time and how well you handle yourself behind the wheel. Things can happen really fast...just like in real driving. After getting through the course, I put on a pair of fatal vision goggles. These are used to simulate being drunk. My reaction time plummeted once I put them on. My score while seeming to drive drunk was eleven out of a possible 100. Then, I pulled out my phone and began texting. Immediately you notice a difference. I've already dropped one hand off the wheel so I can hold the phone. Also, notice the one hand I have on the wheel is nowhere near the ten-and-two's at the bottom. Does this look familiar to anyone? Now, watch my eyes. For every two to three seconds my eyes are on the phone, my eyes are on the road for about a half second. To put that in perspective, driving at 55 miles per hour, your car travels 81 feet per second. So if I take my eyes off the road for two full seconds...that's the amount of time I just car has traveled 162 feet...or a little longer than half a football field. Also keep this in mind, drivers can get distracted by much more than talking on your cell phone or texting.

"Not eating, not smoking, not playing with your CD player, not arguing or fussing with your neighbor over there, not looking behind you. All distractions," says Kerry Anders

Kerry Anders has been a Driver's Education instructor with Quincy High School for 25 years. He says your number one task when you get behind the wheel is driving the car safely. He also points out, you should look around to study your surroundings and not drive with what he calls "tunnel vision." If you know what's going on around your car, you're less likely to get into an accident.

By the way, I told you I scored eleven on the simulator while wearing the Fatal Vision Goggles.

I also scored an eleven while texting and driving.

That indicates that distracted driving can be just as dangerous as driving at twice the legal blood-alcohol limit.

We'd like to know what you think about texting behind the wheel, take our poll below.

The Oprah Winfrey Show recently did a very impacting episode about distracted driving.

You can watch clips online, and it's definitely worth an hour of your time.

Link to it here: