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Eating while driving: A dangerous distraction?

On Behalf of | Dec 13, 2019 | Firm News

Immediately after having been in a car crash in Houston, your thoughts may turn to determining what caused the driver to lose control of their vehicle. If upon further investigation you find that the driver has fresh food stains on their clothing, you may have your answer. 

It might seem surprising that something as seemingly innocuous as eating while driving would make it difficult to control one’s vehicle, but a further review of the action can prove enlightening. 

The dangers of eating while driving 

Eating likely seems like such a natural action that you perhaps have even done it yourself while driving without giving it a second thought. Yet a joint research effort between the Auto Alliance and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reveals that those who eat and drink behind the wheel have 3.6 more likely odds to be in an accident than those who do not. 

Plus, the fact that so few view this activity as being a danger on the road means that it is more prevalent. Information shared by Exxon Mobil shows that as many 73% of drivers have eaten behind the wheel. It is perhaps for this reason that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that eating while driving may play a role in as many as 80% of car accidents. 

Why is eating so distracting?  

Experts identify three primary types of distracting activities in motorists: 

  • Manual distractions 
  • Visual distractions 
  • Cognitive distractions 

Eating behind the wheel causes a driver to engage in all three. They have to remove a hand from the steering wheel in order to hold the food or drink they are consuming, and they also need to divert both their eyes and attention away from the road to focus on what they are doing, even if the required focus might be momentary. Often only a moment of distraction can result in an accident.