Eating while driving is one of the most common forms of distracted driving. Along with other distracted driving behaviors, the act of eating snacks or drinking beverages while behind the wheel presents serious safety risks on U.S. highways.
Dangers of Eating While Driving
It’s important to understand the dangers associated with eating while driving. There are three common types of distractions that impair drivers’ abilities to safely operate their vehicles and avoid crashes:
- Visual distractions occur when a driver’s eyes are diverted away from the road to complete or pay attention to another task.
- Manual distractions require drivers to take their hands off of the wheel.
- Cognitive distractions take a driver’s mind and focus away from driving.
Each of these distractions are dangerous, but when combined they pose an even greater risk to driver, passenger and pedestrian safety. Eating and driving often incorporates a combination of one or more distractions. Drivers must unwrap food packaging, use napkins, hold the food with at least one hand, apply condiments and complete other activities while operating a vehicle. This makes eating while driving a particularly dangerous activity. And spilling beverages – especially hot beverages—is very distracting for a driver.
For proof, consider these alarming eating and driving statistics:
- According to a Lytx study in 2014, a driver who is drinking or eating is 3.6 times more likely to be in an automobile crash than attentive drivers who are not eating or drinking while driving.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that the “secondary task distraction” of eating or drinking from an open container while driving increases the likelihood of near-miss crashes or crashes by nearly 39 percent.
These statistics are shocking and highlight the urgency that’s needed to stop distracted drivers who are eating on the road. It’s simply not worth your life or the lives of others.
How to Prevent Eating While Driving
Let’s face it—driving and eating is extremely dangerous and puts drivers, passengers and pedestrians at risk of injuries and fatal car crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ranked the 10 most dangerous types of food to eat while driving. The foods that top the list include chocolate, soft drinks, jelly and cream-filled or powdered doughnuts, fried chicken, barbecued food, hamburgers, chili, tacos, soups and coffee.
By avoiding these at-risk foods and simply waiting until you are home to have a meal, drivers can significantly reduce the chances of a serious or fatal car crash. If you are on a road trip far from home or must eat immediately even though you are driving, pull over instead and enjoy your meal before getting back on the road. Eating while driving is not worth endangering yourself or others.