Eight Seconds: One Fatal Distraction (2023)


It’s a story about eight seconds that forever changed the lives of two families. Eight seconds a distracted driver wishes he could take back.

In the Minnesota Department of Public Safety video, “Eight Seconds: One Fatal Distraction," Sam Hicks discusses the moments leading up to the fatal crash that
took the life of 54-year old Robert Bursik and the message he wants to share with drivers.

On Feb. 27, 2018, Hicks was driving on Highway 36 when he looked down at his phone for eight seconds after receiving a text from his girlfriend at the time about
a house listing. Hicks says, “I do pray people learn from my mistake and avoid distracted driving!”

Bursik was a husband and father of three at the time he died. Bursik’s wife and daughter are also featured in the video.


I play that moment in my head multiple times a day there, wasn't anything I could do.

I was out of control from the time that I looked down on my phone to the time that I looked up.

Eight seconds had passed.

I never realized how far you travel in eight seconds.

You see it too often.

And tuesday was another example where someone's killed on our roads for no reason, other than someone else's poor choice to make that phone more important than driving.

We shouldn't need a law to tell us to pay attention while driving.

We should just be paying attention while driving because we know it's the right thing to do and had that happen on tuesday afternoon, there's, no doubt in my mind that mr bursig would have been home.

He was stopped at a stoplight.

And I hit him when I was going 63 miles an hour and hit so hard that my truck went on top of his car.

I couldn't steer.

I couldn't the brakes didn't.

Do anything I couldn't do anything I've heard the reports that the fire department took hours to get him extracted from the vehicle that is a haunting image in my mind that I think about all the time we'll never get to see our dad again and it's, all because of the eight seconds that sam decided to look at his phone robert.

And I were married in march 23rd of 2013, and he died just short of our five-year anniversary.

He made people feel very welcomed.

He was always kind of the life of the party.

He was never afraid to laugh at his own jokes.

He really cared about humanity, the environment, um, I have two step kids who are older.

And when we were married, he really wanted to have another child.

And of course, I did too.

So ian was born in 2011.

And he just thought it was the best thing even though he was an older father.

He just looked at it like how lucky am I to be able to get to do this again, he's missed out on so much he's, he's missed out on his daughter's wedding he's missed out on the birth of his grandson, he's missed out on his son, graduating from college and ian has missed missed out on not growing up and sharing a lot of those things with rob that you hope every kid and father get to do.

And he missed out simply on, you know, somebody's, poor choice, it's been difficult.

He misses his dad a lot.

Uh, my dad was the most energetic outgoing, loving funny guy.

Almost anyone has ever met.

He was that guy that just absolutely lights up a room when he steps into it.

The big thing that we were planning when my dad was killed was my wedding.

He was going to walk me down the aisle.

So my uncle paul.

My dad's brother had to walk me down the aisle because my dad wasn't there, my son was born in june of 2018.

I can only imagine what an amazing grandpa.

He would have been.

I feel devastated from my little brother ian, I feel devastated for my brother colin.

I feel so sad for my son that he never got to meet him and have him as a grandpa.

I feel so horrible for my stepmom it's, just so hard to think about the fact that he doesn't get to be here for the world and continue making an impact the daily crash.

I was leaving my second to last stop.

And I was, I got onto highway 36 going east towards wisconsin.

And meanwhile, while I was driving, I got a message about a house that my girlfriend at the time was looking at.

And I pulled out my phone to to look at it to see what she was talking about.

I thought it would be fine.

I thought nothing will happen during those eight seconds.

I the time went by so fast.

I traveled a lot farther than I ever thought.

I would have I looked up just before I hit the vehicle.

And my truck went right on top of his car that he had and pushed him all the way through the intersection.

And I got out of the truck as fast as I could, and I ran back to the car by then it would it sank in fully that? It was too late.

When I found out about rob's passing, we were actually going through a very difficult time.

My son was in children's hospital, and he had a bad eye infection.

He was getting treated for that.

And a nurse came into the room, and she had just a grave.

Look on her face.

And then a state trooper came over to me and sat me down in a chair and told me the news.

And I remember, you know, maybe about 20 seconds of just numb staring at him, and then having to go to the next room and tell my son that his father was killed in an accident.

He immediately started crying.

And the first thing he asked me is will I be able to get a new dad? And that was that was devastating when I think about mr bursick, I think about his family.

I think about him being a dad.

I think about him being a professor.

I think about his his greenhouse that he had, which was his business.

I think about his his kids you you definitely don't want to be that person that takes somebody else's life.

You don't want to go to jail over it.

You don't want to hurt your own family and their family at the time of the crash.

I was a single dad raising a young son and a young daughter over the time I've been in jail.

My children have missed out on me being there for christmas for thanksgiving for their christmas concert.

And they've just missed out on me being there every day as I was before, I know in the future, my family will get to have me back for for holidays.

But mr bursick's family won't have him back for any future, holidays it's heartbreaking to know that that happened to know that I caused that to know that it's my fault that they won't get to enjoy another holiday with him.

I can't say, I'm, sorry, enough.

I can't tell you how bad I feel knowing that you have to grow up without your father.

I wish I could take it all back.

I wish I could change the events getting one text.

And checking one zillow link led to an entire life of regret remorse, sadness, heartbreak.

I don't think drivers realize how long they're actually looking at their phone, not paying attention to the road.

It doesn't matter who you are it doesn't matter if you wear a suit and tie it doesn't matter if you wear jeans and boots, it doesn't matter what you do for a job it's going to happen to anybody all it takes is one poor decision.

Every time I hop in my car.

I see people driving distracted.

And I mean, I just want to stop the person and shake them and tell them do you have any idea what what you're doing right now did to my family? Do you have any idea what that did to my family and what you could do to someone else's? Hey, james he is doing well responding nicely to the antibiotics.

My dad left me a voicemail updating me on my brother, ian's condition at children's hospital.

The day that the crash happened just wanted to let.

You know, if you're having a good day, I'll talk to you later, love you bye, you know, I mean we have the memories.

Yes, but we'll never get to see our dad again and it's, all because of the eight seconds that sam decided to look at his phone.



How long does a text take your eyes off the road? ›

Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that's like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed. You cannot drive safely unless the task of driving has your full attention.

What is the number one distraction while driving? ›

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 you, your passengers, and others on the road.

How many deaths does distracted driving cause? ›

Each year, approximately 3,000 people lose their lives to car accidents resulting from distracted drivers. This accounts for between 8% and 9% of all fatal motor vehicle collisions on roads across the United States.

How many more times likely are you to crash while texting? ›

Texting Increases the Odds of Being in a Car Accident

Drivers who text while driving are 23 times more likely to be involved in a car accident.

How can cops tell if you're texting and driving? ›

The police can either get permission from the owner of the phone or obtain a search warrant. During a traffic stop, a police officer might ask you to unlock your phone and allow them to look through it to determine whether or not you were texting.

Can the police track you down through a text message? ›

Information That Can Be Acquired from a Wire Tap

If the law enforcement officers go to your cell service provider or Google, they can access information on your text messages and emails if they have a court order.

What are the top 5 driver distractions? ›

Five Most Common Distractions While Driving
  • Cognitive distraction. ...
  • Cell phone use. ...
  • Events outside the vehicle. ...
  • Drivers may carry on conversations or even have arguments with their passengers while driving. ...
  • Reaching for devices inside the vehicle.
Mar 8, 2019

What are the top 3 distractions while driving? ›

The top three distractions while driving include manual, visual, and cognitive distractions. Each type involves different dangerous activities, all of which take attention away from safe driving and increase the risk of accidents.

What are the deadliest driving distractions? ›

Studies show the most dangerous form of distracted driving is texting or calling behind the wheel. Cell phones impair all three types of distracted driving simultaneously, which makes them a triple threat to your safety and others.

What are the 4 types of distractions? ›

When discussing the four types of distractions, we are going to specifically look at visual distractions, manual distractions, auditory distractions, and cognitive distractions.

Is distracted driving worse than drunk driving? ›

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that driving while texting is six times more dangerous than driving drunk. Reading or sending a text takes your eyes off the road for about five seconds.

Which age group is most likely to be distracted while driving? ›

According to government statistics, drivers ages 15 to 19 were involved in a whopping 16 percent of all fatal car accidents caused by distraction. To help keep your teen driver safe, model good driving behaviors and discuss the dangerous of driving when attention is diverted from the road.

Is 1 out of every 4 car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving? ›

1 out of every 4 car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving. Texting while driving is 6x more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk. Answering a text takes away your attention for about five seconds.

Are you 23 times more likely to crash if texting while driving? ›

5 seconds is the minimal amount of attention that a driver who texts takes away from the road. If traveling at 55 mph, this equals driving the length of a football field without looking at the road. Texting makes a crash up to 23 times more likely. Teens who text while driving spend 10% of the time outside their lane.

Why do people text while driving? ›

Habit – they are used to checking messages frequently and reaching for their device without thinking about it. Recklessness – checking a text message does not take much time, so drivers may feel that it is safe to glance away from the road long enough to read or type out a message.

How do you tell if you're being set up by police? ›

You are visited or contacted by the police – The most common way to tell if the police are investigating you is if they confront you personally. You may find police showing up at your home, place of work, or reaching out to you by phone to ask questions about a criminal case.

How do you prove you weren't texting while driving? ›

All it takes is a subpoena from the wireless phone provider to assess when text messages were read and sent and to see if there is an overlap with the time of the accident. Traffic cameras may also be able to capture the moment someone was distracted from looking at their cell phone and thus caused an accident.

Is it illegal to text someone while they are driving? ›

Texting and driving laws by state

Texting and driving is illegal in 48 states and the District of Columbia. A smaller number of states (24 and the District of Columbia) have bans on drivers using any handheld devices while behind the wheel.

Can police tap your phone without your knowledge? ›

Without a warrant, the police cannot listen to a person's phone conversations, unless one of the parties to a phone conversation consents to the use of a wiretap. Any information they gather without a warrant and without consent cannot be used against a defendant in a criminal trial.

How do I stop my phone from being tracked by the police? ›

On Android
  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select Locations.
  3. Choose App Locations Permissions.
  4. Select each app individually and change permissions based on what you feel comfortable sharing.
Mar 22, 2023

Can the police listen to your phone calls? ›

Yes, the authorities can obtain access to your phone and eavesdrop on your phone calls. However, the state of California has strict laws regarding police listening to phone calls, so it is important to know and fully understand these laws.

What are 3 types of aggressive driving behaviors? ›

Examples of aggressive driving behaviors include:
  • Speeding in heavy traffic.
  • Tailgating.
  • Cutting in front of another driver and then slowing down.
  • Running red lights.
  • Weaving in and out of traffic.
  • Changing lanes without signaling.
  • Blocking cars attempting to pass or change lanes.

What are the 3 types of driver distractions *? ›

According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, there are three primary types of driving distractions: visual, manual and cognitive.

What are four 4 safety tips to remember when backing up? ›

Scan the area and look for hazards, such as poles, trees, buildings, or people. Avoid parking near traffic lanes or pedestrian areas. Continually check all mirrors while backing. Perform a walk- around.

What are the two primary kinds of distraction? ›

Distractions can be external (such as noise) or internal (such as fatigue, rumination, or stress).

What is the most common mistake when backing up? ›

Answer: The most common mistake that drivers make when backing up is failing to look both ways behind them. Mirrors do not give you a full view. To see as much as possible, turn your body and head to the right and look out through the rear window.

What is the greatest danger of driving too fast? ›

Excessive speeding reduces the amount of time the driver has to react in a dangerous situation to avoid a crash, increases vehicle stopping distance, and reduces the ability of road safety structures (such as guardrails, impact attenuators, crash cushions, median dividers, and concrete barriers) to protect vehicle ...

Which is the biggest distraction for drivers involved in collisions aceable? ›

Cell phones, even hands-free devices, are one of the biggest driver distractions. Using a cell phone while driving is actually against the law in many states. Set your phone to silent before you get in the car, and never text while driving.

What are 4 distracted driving activities? ›

Driving Distractions Study
  • Using electronic devices.
  • Reaching for an object inside the vehicle.
  • Looking at an object or event outside of the vehicle.
  • Eating.
  • Applying cosmetics (makeup).

What is the rule of distraction? ›

The Law of Distraction and Interruption - Defined: Life's Distractions, if you allow them, will keep you from achieving your goals and dreams. Interruptions either slow you down or completely stop you from what you set out to accomplish.

What are the seven distractions? ›

The Seven Distractions

In his early fifties, Maurice expresses the idea that only seven things can distract a person from the horrors of existence: love, grief, pain sentimentality, avarice, lust, and a desire for death.

Is it safer to drive drunk or tired? ›

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), alcohol impairment is involved in almost 30% of all traffic fatalities. The Sleep Foundation's analysis estimates that the real percentage of fatalities caused by sleep-deprived drivers is 21%.

Why is drunk driving worse than texting? ›

The Transport Research Laboratory found that writing a text message slows driver reactions by 35 percent, while drinking alcohol up to the legal limit slows reactions by 12 percent. Another study stated that texting drivers react 23 percent slower than intoxicated drivers do.

What kills more people drunk driving or texting? ›

The general consensus is that drunk driving is more fatal than distracted driving because drunk drivers tend to be more reckless and traveling at higher speeds than distracted drivers. Many distracted driving accidents are fender-benders resulting from distractions in stop-and-go traffic.

What age is best at driving? ›

That strong family support and foundation of good skills and responsible behaviors is important. That's why 16 is really the best age for teens to learn to drive.

At what age do driving skills decline? ›

There is no set age at which things like decreased hearing and vision or stiffness occur,” says Marion Somers, Ph. D., a geriatric care manager and the author of Elder Care Made Easier. “They can come at any age, so drivers must remain very aware of the changes to their bodies. Everyone is different.

At what age do most people stop driving? ›

According to AARP, the average age that people give up driving is 75. But not everyone is willing to hand over the keys.

Are you 32 times more likely to crash while texting? ›

Texting Increases the Odds of Being in a Car Accident

Drivers who text while driving are 23 times more likely to be involved in a car accident.

What state has the most deaths from texting and driving? ›

New Mexico

What state has the most texting and driving accidents? ›

New Mexico Has the Highest Rate of Fatal Car Accidents Due to Distracted Driving. New Mexico was the most dangerous state for distracted-driving-related accidents in 2020. In total, 139 fatal crashes in the state involved inattentive drivers.

What are 1 in 10 fatal accidents are caused by? ›

Nearly 1 in 10 fatal accidents are caused by distracted driving.

How long are a drivers eyes off the road when sending or receiving a single text? ›

Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that's like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.

What are 3 dangers of texting and driving? ›

Visual: taking your eyes off of the road is a visual distraction. Manual: any time your hand or hands are off of the steering wheel. Cognitive: Your mind is focused on something other than driving. The effects of this impacts reaction time to changing surroundings.

What is one reason a person should avoid texting while driving? ›

In fact, you are 23 times more likely to crash your vehicle when texting while driving than if you are attending carefully to the road, and nearly 80 percent of crashes involve a distracted driver.

What was the driver doing when she hit xzavier? ›

Valetta says the woman behind the wheel was texting and driving when she blew a stop sign. The vehicle dragged Xzavier about 40 feet before coming to a halt. Doctors told Xzavier's family he had two years to live. Thirteen years later, he's reminded of that driver's decision every single day.

Is texting and driving the same as distracted driving? ›

Distracted driving is anything that takes your eyes or mind off the road, or hands off the steering wheel – especially when texting or using your phone. Using your cell phone while driving is not only dangerous, but also illegal.

Is 5 seconds the average time your eyes are off the road while texting? ›

Texting and driving is one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving. In fact, the average text sent or read in a car takes a driver's eyes off the road for 5 seconds. This is more than enough time to get in a life-altering accident. No text or call is worth your life.

How long can you look away from the road? ›

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests drivers confine their glances away from the road to no more than two seconds in length, but this study seems to suggest that even this amount of time may be dangerous.

How many seconds can you look away from the road? ›

With a standard of 2.5 seconds, highway engineers use time, rather than distance, to represent how long it takes a driver to perceive and react to hazards.

How does my car know I took my eyes off road? ›

A small camera mounted in the instrument panel behind the steering wheel tracks the eye's movements as well as the driver's blinking patterns. If the driver looks away to text, read an email or focus on something other than the road, the camera will notice.

How many seconds should you look in front of you? ›

To give yourself time to react, avoid last minute moves and hazards, always keep your eyes moving and scan the road at least 10 seconds ahead of your vehicle.

How fast does the average person text? ›

The average typing speed of a normal person is between 38 and 40 words per minute (this means around 190-200 characters per minute). Nevertheless, professional typists, or professionals who spend a lot of their time writing texts on desktop devices, have a typing speed of 65 to 75 words per minute.

What can happen if you look away from the road for two seconds? ›

The Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety study shows in-vehicle glances as brief as two seconds can have a serious effect on a driver's ability to notice an upcoming hazard. The research shows there is a period of readjustment that occurs after the eyes have returned to the road.

What is the longest you should take your eyes off the road? ›

The maximum amount of time a driver can safely divert their attention from the road is two seconds. Any more of a visual distraction can be detrimental to your safety and others' on the road. Whether you're checking out an accident or staring at a beautiful sunset—keep it brief.

How far ahead should you look when driving on the freeway? ›

To avoid last-minute moves, you must look far enough ahead to see and react to things early. You should be able to identify problem situations 12 to 15 seconds ahead — about one block in the city, or a quarter of a mile at highway speeds.

How far ahead should you be able to see when driving at night? ›

At night your headlights will usually be the main source of light for you to see and for others to see you. You cannot see nearly as much with your headlights as you can see in the daytime. With low beams you can see ahead about 250 feet and with high beams about 350–500 feet.

When driving What is the 3 second rule? ›

A general rule that helps many drivers maintain safe following distances is the “three-second rule.” It requires leaving three seconds of space between your vehicle and the vehicle driving in front of you. If you are interested in forming safer driving habits, you need to understand and implement the three-second rule.

What is the 20 second rule for eyes? ›

Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and focus your eyes on something at least 20 feet away. Many of us spend a good deal of our time staring at screens from laptops, computers, smartphones, gaming systems and television. This can put a lot of strain on our eyes and cause eye fatigue.

How many car lengths is 3 seconds? ›

The 3-second rule advises you to keep a distance of three car lengths between you and the car in front. This has also been described as the distance you could travel in three seconds at an average speed. Maintaining this space between cars is a simple and proven way to avoid rear-end collisions.

How do cars know you are tired? ›

HOW DOES IT WORK? There are essentially two ways your car can tell if you're getting tired. The most common one employs existing lane departure sensors and monitors steering inputs to detect erratic driving, like when you're drifting out of your lane often in a short period of time.

Why does my car ask if I need a break? ›

Drowsiness alert systems display a coffee cup and message on your dashboard to take a driving break if it suspects that you're drowsy. Some systems with audio alerts may verbally tell you that you may be drowsy and should take a break as soon as it's safe to do so.

Which cars have eye tracking? ›

Only a handful of vehicles (BMW, Cadillac, Subaru) have eye-tracking devices today. Some of the cameras are optical; others are infrared (illumination) and can see through sunglasses. The automakers say only the driver's face is tracked, not cockpit activity, and nothing is permanently recorded.

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